Mar 8, 2013

"Who AM I?" And Do We Ever Change (Also A Brief Reflection On "Is Being Together Possible?")

Looking Back At March 31, 1997

I spent last Saturday reading my journal from 1997. Look at what I wrote on March 31, 1997. It’s proof that I have not changed. At all. I will be sixty and still wondering about my place in the cosmos (and hopefully with a better HMO):
How do I fit in the grand scheme of the cosmos? I am seventeen, medium height, medium weight, hazel eyes, brown hair, mild complexion, have acne, am Catholic, attend a public high school, love to read and participate in other cultural activities, learn about historical events, visit art museums and view fine films. That’s me in a nutshell (into clich├ęs tonight). I am an independent person and don’t care for much intervention. I get the most joy out of completing tasks by myself, not because I like doing it by myself. I don’t get my joy for performing and doing things for others, when I act I please myself. It is fun to see people laugh at my jokes or comment or something. I do, but frankly I don’t do it for them. People who know me well may think I am cold-hearted, I don’t think so. I love people and love seeing people happy. I desire the best for anyone I know; I am talking about the core of my being, what gives me most enjoyment: people or myself? The answer must be myself. I’d rather ride my bike alone or walk my dog alone. I’d rather cook a meal or read a book alone. I’d rather tour a museum alone or view the stars by myself. But I do love sharing my experiences. I am not shy when it comes to depositing my knowledge. The gift of teaching resides in me. That is what God gave me. I never grow tired of friendships and good conversation. I would get lonesome being by myself too long. I would want to escape and experience something else …. I have more to offer the world than wash dishes, get braces, being obedient, etc. I am impatient, but am hanging on the vine.
 
  I am not sure I agree with my seventeen-year-old self that teaching is depositing knowledge but I will forgive him because he had not read yet Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I no longer have acne and I am not sure where I stand on Catholicism but the gist of what I wrote that night in March of 1997 still rings true in 2013. Is this the same for everyone? Even if you don’t have access to a journal entry you wrote 16 years ago it is still interesting to reflect on how much we change. It's interesting I wrote that entry during my Senior year of high school. So it makes sense I would be thinking about what I want out of life. Now after having finished college and two graduate degree programs, as well as some years of teaching - and don't forget msix years as a Benedictine monk - I still think of what this seventeen year old boy was thinking: who the hell am I?
I think I am thinking about this more than ever because I feel this persistent push to be something, to do something, but at the same time I have this other feeling inside of me that I am (and have been) doing it all along - I just hadn’t noticed. It’s like I spend so much time thinking about what I will be or will do that I have forgotten what I did, what I have seen and heard. My seventeen year old self is telling my thirty-three year old self “to please myself” and continue to take pleasure out of art, novels, friends and all that jazz.
It sounds like what I am saying is that if I am ever going to find someone else to share my life with they also have to know their joy. We come together and share what joys we know. When I first read this entry I thought, shit, I will be alone for the rest of my life. But I read it again and it struck me, something I did not notice the first time I read this scrap of paper from the past. It’s so human to want to please yourself and to think of the future but at the same I sense a longing to share that something with someone else and to know their joy. Is that what they call interdependence? It's when I say “I love sharing my experiences.” That’s the art of being together. That’s what I crave and I think it is what a lot of human beings crave. I love how at the end I say I am impatient and holding on the vine. That’s very Greig Roselli.

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