Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…

…Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself.

(Sorry, I’ve been seeing these all over the place and felt a responsibility to add to the mix. This one’s a bit more of a diary entry than anything of super substance, but it’s been a busy week. Started a new carpentry gig, putting the finishing touches on getting my mom moved in, but there’s some good news! I’ve mentioned the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge before, but this year’s different. Previously, my entries never gained any traction, but THIS TIME WE’RE ONTO ROUND TWO [which is pretty dope].)

(And if I can just confide in you guys for a second, I’ll be real: I thought I shit the bed with my second story. I wasn’t even all too crazy about my first one [in a competitive sense; in my heart, I was in love]. They’ll make their way on here eventually after I polish them up a touch, but the first was a Romantic Comedy featuring a slice of pizza and a tourist information center and the second was a Spy Thriller that had to involve a beach ball and a nightclub. That second one was rough especially because I went to a Renaissance Fair that weekend so was pretty…indisposed for most of it. But hey, good things come to those that get daytime wasted in costume among strangers far from home, am I right?)

(Anyway, that’s the wrap-up. Now that I’m working daytime hours again, I’ll be smarter and schedule these to upload ahead of time rather than bein’ a La-Z-Bones.)

(Catch y’all fancy folks Tuesday! M’wah!)

I Wrote a Poem!

Happy Tuesday, you silly bunch o’ waffles.

I wish I was cooler, mostly because I wish I was the type of person that liked coconut water. I really, really do, but every time I try, it always tastes the same: like fart-water. It’s kind of like that scene from Doctor Who [WARNING: If you’re a fan, you’re about to be mad] from that one season where he revives or whatever and is being fed by a little girl.
“What do you like to eat?” she asks.
“Oh, I very much like fish sticks!” he replied (according to my super reliable memory).
-she feeds him fish sticks-
“Oh! Yuck!” he exclaims.
“I thought you said you liked them!”
“I suppose I don’t this time.”

It’s kind of like that: I want to like it, but my tongue, throat, nose, and whole physical being disagree. And it’s the same way with water chestnuts, painting (don’t have the patience for it, even though I wish I did and sometimes even think I do before I’m quickly proven wrong), and finally…poetry.

That last one especially gets me. I’ve written a few poems in my day, but none that are ever stirring or resonating. Poems are supposed to resonate and make you feel and think deeply, right? I’ve read and listened to people read their own poems that stir all kinds of terrific and terrible emotions, but my own never really come close. Now, of course, all that said…

I wrote a poem.

The Red Sun Looms

The sky is blue, but its plumes are gray,
and behind them, the setting red sun looms.

Reporters and Facebook warriors post and relay,
from the comfort of our living rooms,
fire map borders, evacuation orders, and impending doom.
But my map is white. My lights are on. Though, my nerves are frayed.

It’s the taste of survivor’s guilt, watching lives be rebuilt,
the silky sand that slips away.
Within every grain, the whispered promise of a day,
when luck’s run out, and it’s your turn to lose.

FIN

The Take: See?
Insider tip, when I wrote this, I had the butterflies, the trembles, the watery eyes. But reading it back, even now – nothin’. Albeit, it’s an early draft, ever-incomplete in all likelihood, but still, you’d think some of the original shivers would linger.
All of that said, I do seem to only get the inspiration to try my hand at poetry when confronted by really real feel-y feels, and the above is a reflection to having a house full of refugee-friends while on the border of an evacuation zone for a week.

So…there’s that, I suppose.

Anyway, see ya Thursday. Hug a firefighter. Ciao.

PS – Started a job as a carpenter’s apprentice today. So there’s that.

A True Story

Happy Friday, happy people.

So, there I was, sitting in the parking lot of my usual coffee house haunt at the end of a daunting week. I grab my bag, make my way in through the back door, give my usual order of a House Black, and take a seat at the window bar. Out comes the notebook, out comes the laptop, out comes a pen to chew on, when BAM! – a hand smacks on the window in front of me.

There’s a man standing there, disheveled, dirty, a wild look in his eye, his hand pressing a piece of paper to the glass. Scrawled messily on the note, it reads, “bathroom on left, under sink.” I don’t know what else to do, so I glance around, meet his eyes, and nod. His jaw quivers, he bites his lips, then he peels the note off the glass and walks briskly down the sidewalk out of view.

I turn in my seat and look around. No one’s looking up. Their heads are either in a tablet, book, or cup. I was the only one who saw the man at the window. I try to ignore it, initially. There’s a bit of a homelessness problem in the area, and you get the odd kook walking around the bike racks every so often, but this was a first. I open up my files and get to work, but I don’t get anywhere. My eyes keep checking over my shoulder to the hallway between the restrooms, checking whenever there’s traffic.

Finally, I get fed up and just pack my things, get up, and settle my curiosity. I hand in my mug (didn’t even get to finish the damn thing) and hit the head. I lock the door behind me out of habit, set my bag down, and take a leak. I look over at the sink and laugh, shaking my head. I zip up, flush, wash my hands, and lock eyes with myself in the mirror.

Are we really gonna look? I say, then my reflection sighs and nods a few seconds later. I crouch, feel around, and ho-ly shit…there’s a small parcel taped to the underside. I peel it off the porcelain and get a look at it in the light. It’s no bigger than a pack of Marlboro’s, wrapped in brown paper, tied with twine, and light, but it’s warm and hums very faintly. I’m doing the diagnostic in my head of what a bomb probably feels like when there’s a knock on the door.

“Uh, yeah. Gimme a second.”

The handle rattles a bit.

“Yeah, man. I’ll be out in a second.” I stuff the box down the front of my pants, positive I’m gonna get dick-cancer, grab my things, open the door, and stop dead. I’m looking eye-level with a tie clip. I crane my neck and see said tie clip is attached to a seven-foot-six tall suit with a giant inside it.

“Sorry,” it says, completely without expression. “I really have to go.”

“Uh, yeah, yeah, sure,” I stammer, and spill out into the hall. I look over my shoulder on my way out of the cafe to watch him crouch under the doorway and close the door behind him. I pass by two more, normal-sized suits on my way out. I don’t even have time to ask myself any questions before I hear the bathroom door smash open and a deep voice shout, “He has it! GET HIM!”

All common sense is screaming at me to just pull out the box, throw it aside, and run; but – and for the life of me I don’t know why – I skip the first part and I just run. I take off down Second street and hear the motley of footsteps behind me. I dash past Toad in the Hole just down the road, knocking over their sign like it’s going to do anything to stop my pursuers, but it works in the movies. Next I round the corner and beeline it to the construction site next to the new garage downtown.

I barely make it over the chain link fence when I catch a glance behind me and see the giant bounding down the block like a goddamn gazelle. He’ll make it over the fence with no problem, so I sprint toward the low cover of the lifted temp structures on the site. In a spray of gravel, I slide under those just as a humongous arm claws under after me. When I’m out of reach, I hear his deep voice strain, and the supports on the building start to creak. The son of a bitch is lifting the whole building, and I know I’m dead.

“Pssst!” I hear to my right. It’s the homeless guy from earlier, peaking out from a sewer grate. He waves me over and I scramble on hands and knees. I’m through the hole right as the building cracks in half above me. The manhole cover gets ripped out of place and the giant leers down at us, but we’re out of reach. I hear the clamoring footsteps of the other suits, the guy pulls me, and we run.

“Do you have him?” he shouts.

“Have who? What? What the fuck are you talking about?”

He leads us with a flashlight as we take turn after turn in the scattered dark. Eventually, he stops suddenly. He turns around and I can feel him staring at me. “Where is it?” is all he says. I pull out the warm, buzzing box. He draws a knife and cuts the paper, and when he does, a blue light spills out from the slit. A small hand, made of luminescent, opulent blue reaches out, then another, then a little body follows it. A tiny creature made of blue light, with two darker blue, almond-shaped spots for eyes, is standing in my hand now.

He sets his flashlight down and reaches into his coat. When he pulls his hand out, he’s also holding a blue glow in the shape of a small person with dark eyes. The two people of light walk on air, out of our hands, and meet. They touch foreheads with one another, there’s a bright flash, and then their gone. At that same moment, the tunnel’s silent – the shouts above us, and the pursuing footsteps all just vanish.

The homeless guy gives a sigh of relief.

“They don’t live long,” he says. “A day or two max, so there isn’t a whole lot of time to make sure they meet and pass their lives on.”

I shake my head. “What…what does that even mean? What are these things, where do they-“

“Hey man,” he interrupts. “I get that you have questions, and thanks for your help, but I couldn’t really answer them all if I wanted to. All I know is I can feel when a new one is born and that these things gotta meet, so I help out.”

Things get a bit fuzzy for a second, and next I know, I’m waking up this morning. So…yeah…

…that’s why I didn’t post yesterday.

See ya Tuesday!

Wisdom from a Vampire Hunter

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

Busily Usain Bolt-ing towards the finish line on this house selling/buying thing, so today I figured I would dive into one of my old notebooks and go quote-hunting for some wisdom of the ancients (I like to picture it like truffle-hunting and I’m the hog – *sniff sniff* *sniff sniff*). I utilized the delicate technique of flipping to a random page and turned up a bit of a gem on the first go.

If you’ve never read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” I’d SUPER recommend it. I went on a kick of reading old classics a few years ago – Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Frankenstein, etc. – and gained a lot from it.

A lot, like this…

“You are a clever man, friend John; you reason well, and your wit is bold; but you are too prejudiced. You do not let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life is not of account to you. Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot? But there are things old and new which must not be contemplate by men’s eyes, because they know – or think they know – some things which other men have told them. Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain. But yet we see around us every day the growth of new ideas, beliefs, which think themselves new, and which are yet but the old, which pretend to be young – like the fine ladies of the opera…

“My thesis is this: I want you to believe…To believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who so defined faith: ‘that which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue.’ For one, I follow that man. He meant that we shall have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep him, and we value him; but all the same must not let him think himself all the truth in the universe.”

-Van Helsing

The Take: First off, I saw the Van Helsing movie with my Lord and Savior Hugh Jackman before ever reading Dracula, and I was COMPLETELY THROWN when instead of a chiseled Wolverine in a trench coat, he was described as a barrel-chested, red-haired Dutchman. Confused. As. Fuck. But eventually, I embraced him.
Secondly (and arguably more important, but pfft), this was the scene where Helsing is prepping Jonathan Harker to accept the idea of vampires, and the idea of one being at the root of their troubles. And I love the lessons herein – about keeping an open mind and not thinking so rigidly you’re not able to learn.

If you’re a fan of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Farenghar Secret-Fire puts it a bit more succintly:

“A sure mark of a fool is to dismiss anything that lies outside his experience as impossible.”

Van Helsing puts it a bit more diplomatically, but the lesson, I think, is in the same spirit. It doesn’t mean “believe everything you hear” (heh-heh, the Internet, am I right?), but it does mean not to write off new ideas simply because they conflict with a previously held idea; judge it upon its own merits. Cognitive dissonance (SMART WORDS) might be uncomfortable, but it makes room for growth.

Anyway, take it easy, everybody. Catch you Thursday.

Ciao.

A Baby Bird

It’s hot in L.A. I’m walking down the sidewalk with the sun tingling my scalp through my hat, and the sweat tickles the center of my back with every other step. The wind picks up, the palm trees sway, and in the distance the city buzzes.

There wasn’t a shine, a movement, or anything in particular that drew my eye, but I happened to see a baby bird. It was there, on the sidewalk, under a tree. It was so small, so fragile, and its chest rose and fell so quickly with its tiny breaths. Its feathers were small and sparse, and there were small red lines on its body that were probably cuts or scratches. I look up at the tree, and I have to squint my eyes, but I think I see the nest. A timeline of events begins to puzzle its way together into one of two possibilities.

The first, is that a hot, summer wind came along and swept this bird out of the comfort of its nest before its time.

The second, is that it was old enough – it looks big enough to be that old, maybe; but what do I know? – that it was time to learn to fly. And when its mother made this young chick fly, it wasn’t ready.

Either way, it wasn’t ready.

I look back down to the baby bird on the sidewalk. I don’t know what to do. I hope it isn’t in pain, though it probably is. I hope its mother will come for it, though she probably won’t. I hope for some reason to think it might heal, though I’m not sure there is one.

Briefly, I look around for something to end its life with, but quickly realize I don’t have the heart to mercy-kill it, even if it would be a kindness. There are no rocks, no bricks, only my shoe and I can’t bring myself to do that.

So I do the only thing there’s left to do.

I take the scrap of a paper cup lying nearby in the shade of a parked car, and scoop its limp, pulsing form off of the hot sidewalk. I place it a few inches to the side, out of the sun, in the shade of the tree. I take a moment to wish it well – the lone favor of a passing giant – and keep walking, praying it knows comfort in its last hours.

Later on up the sidewalk, I stop again and think about that baby bird. I look up, and a few moments later see no fewer than half a dozen black birds flying overhead from an unknowable origin to an unknowable destination. I small chuckle tells the lesson: We symbolize birds for their freedom, their gift of flight, and it’s usually with jealousy. But rarely, I think, do we consider the cost, the gamble they make when they’re young, and what should happen if the gamble goes poorly. I realized then and there how common a story it must be, to be a bird that never gets to taste flight. Somewhere in that feeling was a mix of respect and admiration for both: for birds whose wings we hail, and those whose wings never spread more than once.

Later, while we’re leaving the city, stuck in the usual, infamous sea of red brake lights, I see the Hollywood sign in distance.

And I chuckle again.

FIN

Did You Know Flooring is Hard?

(If the title didn’t give it away, I’m redoing the floors in my mom’s house today! Turns out, it’s difficult and labor-intensive as shit. So just know that while you’re soaking up these sweet, sweet words, I’m likely covered in dust and choking on asbestos. But we’re doing a re-post because I love y’all. I love y’all AND actually like what this post had to say, so, in case you missed it…)

Where Does Personality Come From? / Who Are You?

Hey! Happy Tues…day…every…

Is today Tuesday…?

F*ck it, sure. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

If you can’t tell, ye olde headspace is a bit frazzled this fine Tues- weekday. So, the way I figure it, it’s the perfect time for a (Oh, yeah, and I didn’t have anything prepared for today because of work on the house. Anyway!) healthy freestyle rant essay!

I’m still pretty hung up on the topics in last week’s post, so I’m just gonna wax pseudo-philosophical and armchair Bro-Brain it up with some questions I had when I was eight. Sound good? Sweet.

I remember sitting in Mrs. Thompson’s third grade class room staring at a cow brain in a jar (for real, I was stoked when she said we were getting one) and the thought crossed my mind: “Where do our personalities come from?” You could probably see the pretty straightforward line of thinkin here, yeah? Our brains hold most of our thinky-stuff – memories, facts, jokes, emotions, lies we told our parents so we wouldn’t get in trouble – and so if that cow’s brain was in that jar, looking exactly as you’d expect from cartoons and old timey movies, then am I looking at that cow’s personality, too?

Like, obviously not the cow’s personality being expressed (uless that cow was lazy and really liked to swim but go nowhere), but looking at the vessel for its…well, its everything. And then I turned the question inward: “Where does personality come from?”

Now, clearly, this is a deep-as-fuck kind of question, and we could spend an actual book here (like the many that already populate the shelves of Barnes and Nobles nationwide) if we wanted to. But I gots shit to do and can’t mentally spelunk that deeply with what time I’ve got. But, I remember the timeline of that thought process as I’ve grown went roughly like this…

Personalities are held in the brain. Well, I mean, they are…aren’t they? But…is it…well, is it a thing that can be…held? That can be contained in that squishy little sponge of gray matter? And why are some people funny, others are serious, and why do I like Gundam figures, but not tomatoes (so on and so forth)? And if you had twins that were born at the exact same time, to the exact same parents, and lived in the exact same house, going to the exact same places, and knowing the exact same people…how and why would they ever be different?

Clearly, this is the point where you shoehorn in the age-old “Nature vs Nurture” debate, right? I think I’ve come to the conclusion that that question is entirely just a thought experiment or thought provocateur (if we’re feeling fancy) than an actual question. Because, and yeah, opinions will differ on this I guess, but, it’s obviously a mix of both. I guess the point of the question is just to determine where you personally place your line as to the ratio.

Because, yeah, Nature definitely has its part, undoubtedly. Some people just straight up have certain predalictions and preferences, personality traits and characteristics. But you don’t just go through life, having experiences and encounters without ever changing and altering on some scale (Enter: the debate over Dany’s decisions in the GoT finale – bring it, nerds! This is a hill I will die on. She had every reason IN THE WORLD TO- nevermind. Another time. Maybe. Or not. I don’t know. Anyway…).

But then, went my twelve-year-old brainy brainy after watching Fight Club, who are you? Or, who am I?

“You are not your job.” – Totally. Your job is just what you do, it’s how you contribute to the tribe. And that might change any number of times for any number of reasons.

“You are not your bank account.” – Well shit, I would hope not. Because that’s never been mighty impressive. But still, yeah, of course. This one’s silly.

But then, expand it a little…”You are not your name.” – Hey, Robert, Wallace, Sarah, etc! These things are just… the sounds we make or the squiggles we draw to express who we mean or who we’re addressing. But there are a million John’s, Tessa’s, Fred’s, and Abigail’s. It’s just…a label. It’s handy, you can like yours (I like mine), but it isn’t you.

During a religious studies course from years ago, I remember my professor mentioned how Plato felt about just existing in a body (and if I’m wrong, blame either my memory or Mr. Thompson – I know, another “Thompson”). Apparently, he likened it to a cage. A cage you, the mind, were just occupying until it died. A cage that could and would occasionally break down. And that got me thinking: “Yeah, you can’t be your body, either. If you break your arm, for example, it’s not like you lose part of you. Even if you’re an athlete and that means you can’t play your sport anymore, you aren’t any different, just your capability.”

That’s where Identity enters the mix. “Who am I?” Not “what,” or “how,” or any other of the five question types. “Who” in a way that isn’t answered with your name, or your job, or your sex, or your relationship to family members. Your personality. Who. Are. You?

Maybe if playing football is part of your identity, or you’re the “tennis guy”, and you suddenly sustain an injury that keeps you from doing that, then yeah, you lose that part of yourself. (For example, I used to do parkour but after a few injuries and “life thangs” eventually stopped. And it was weird, because to a fair number of people, I was “the parkour guy” or the “dude that can flip,” and when that was gone, there was an adjustment period, I won’t lie.) So, you lose that part of yourself, kind of…

But…do you really?

No.

Like, yes. But no.

See what I mean?

Anyway, the closest thing I’ve come to that’s an acceptable “answer” (in quotes because, ah, well you get it by now), are best illustrated by the two following sources:

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
I mean, spoilers if you have any interest in the game and haven’t ever played it, but that’s about all the warning I’m gonna give for an eight year old video game in an overdone seri- anyway!
At the end of the game, Number 16 (I think was his ID) has this big heart-to-heart with Desmond, and, with arms outstretched and his face to the sky, he drops the line, “What are we but memories? Huh!? The stories we tell ourselves!”
Think on that shit…

Set it? Cool.
If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you might remember the short I put up with the same name. And I always liked it, and it’s stuck with me, because there’s something about it that resonates. It checks a lot of boxes. “You are not your job.” Check. “You are not your bank account.” Check. “You are not your name.” Check.
We’re just…that. We are our life’s story. What’s the one thing you leave behind after you die? Your legacy. Your memory. People’s memory of what you did or how you impacted them or others. You are the things you do, the places you go, the stories you tell, the people you take care of, the hand you hold out to help, etc etc.

Some Philosopher’s Playlist I Listened To That One Time Yeah, I get it, less of a catchy title. We could always call it, “Some Philosopher’s Playlist I Listened To That One Time: Reloaded” or something, but anyway…
In it, and I think I’m going to butcher the quote since I’m just spit-ballin’ here, some unnamed older gentleman says something like the following:

We all go through up’s and down’s. And once, when I was on one of those down’s, I kept having a thought. It was the same, persistent thought. ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ And when I realized that I had that thought before, something occurred to me. I am not the thought. This thought is not me. And I wondered, how many thoughts, and how many people everywhere each day, have thoughts like this, thoughts that are not them? And it occurred to me… I am not the thought, I am the awareness.”

Okay, if I had you take a moment to let the first one sink in… Absorb that. “I am not the thought, I am the awareness.” Speaking of parkour (from earlier), one of my coaches, Brett, made a deceptively insightful comment one day that I overheard: “You know, you can’t control your mood, but you can control your attitude.”
Now, marry the two thoughts. You’re not the thought, you are the awareness. You are the consciousness, the phenomenal, inchoate, ethereal experience behind your eyes, behind your thoughts. Your thoughts aren’t you, they occur to you. Your mood/emotions aren’t you, they influence you – you, the one behind them.

So, I don’t know, in conclusion…take the above and just…mill on it. Like Izzy from Gray’s Anatomy once said: “My mom always said, ‘Trust the man who claims to seek the truth, but doubt the man who claims to have found it.’”
And I need to maintain my credibility ’round here.

Anyway, thanks for brain-wrestling with me.

Catch you Thursday.

Ciao.

Who Are You? / Where Does Personality Come From?

Hey! Happy Tues…day…every…

Is today Tuesday…?

F*ck it, sure. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

If you can’t tell, ye olde headspace is a bit frazzled this fine Tues- weekday. So, the way I figure it, it’s the perfect time for a (Oh, yeah, and I didn’t have anything prepared for today because of work on the house. Anyway!) healthy freestyle rant essay!

I’m still pretty hung up on the topics in last week’s post, so I’m just gonna wax pseudo-philosophical and armchair Bro-Brain it up with some questions I had when I was eight. Sound good? Sweet.

I remember sitting in Mrs. Thompson’s third grade class room staring at a cow brain in a jar (for real, I was stoked when she said we were getting one) and the thought crossed my mind: “Where do our personalities come from?” You could probably see the pretty straightforward line of thinkin here, yeah? Our brains hold most of our thinky-stuff – memories, facts, jokes, emotions, lies we told our parents so we wouldn’t get in trouble – and so if that cow’s brain was in that jar, looking exactly as you’d expect from cartoons and old timey movies, then am I looking at that cow’s personality, too?

Like, obviously not the cow’s personality being expressed (uless that cow was lazy and really liked to swim but go nowhere), but looking at the vessel for its…well, its everything. And then I turned the question inward: “Where does personality come from?”

Now, clearly, this is a deep-as-fuck kind of question, and we could spend an actual book here (like the many that already populate the shelves of Barnes and Nobles nationwide) if we wanted to. But I gots shit to do and can’t mentally spelunk that deeply with what time I’ve got. But, I remember the timeline of that thought process as I’ve grown went roughly like this…

Personalities are held in the brain. Well, I mean, they are…aren’t they? But…is it…well, is it a thing that can be…held? That can be contained in that squishy little sponge of gray matter? And why are some people funny, others are serious, and why do I like Gundam figures, but not tomatoes (so on and so forth)? And if you had twins that were born at the exact same time, to the exact same parents, and lived in the exact same house, going to the exact same places, and knowing the exact same people…how and why would they ever be different?

Clearly, this is the point where you shoehorn in the age-old “Nature vs Nurture” debate, right? I think I’ve come to the conclusion that that question is entirely just a thought experiment or thought provocateur (if we’re feeling fancy) than an actual question. Because, and yeah, opinions will differ on this I guess, but, it’s obviously a mix of both. I guess the point of the question is just to determine where you personally place your line as to the ratio.

Because, yeah, Nature definitely has its part, undoubtedly. Some people just straight up have certain predalictions and preferences, personality traits and characteristics. But you don’t just go through life, having experiences and encounters without ever changing and altering on some scale (Enter: the debate over Dany’s decisions in the GoT finale – bring it, nerds! This is a hill I will die on. She had every reason IN THE WORLD TO- nevermind. Another time. Maybe. Or not. I don’t know. Anyway…).

But then, went my twelve-year-old brainy brainy after watching Fight Club, who are you? Or, who am I?

“You are not your job.” – Totally. Your job is just what you do, it’s how you contribute to the tribe. And that might change any number of times for any number of reasons.

“You are not your bank account.” – Well shit, I would hope not. Because that’s never been mighty impressive. But still, yeah, of course. This one’s silly.

But then, expand it a little…”You are not your name.” – Hey, Robert, Wallace, Sarah, etc! These things are just… the sounds we make or the squiggles we draw to express who we mean or who we’re addressing. But there are a million John’s, Tessa’s, Fred’s, and Abigail’s. It’s just…a label. It’s handy, you can like yours (I like mine), but it isn’t you.

During a religious studies course from years ago, I remember my professor mentioned how Plato felt about just existing in a body (and if I’m wrong, blame either my memory or Mr. Thompson – I know, another “Thompson”). Apparently, he likened it to a cage. A cage you, the mind, were just occupying until it died. A cage that could and would occasionally break down. And that got me thinking: “Yeah, you can’t be your body, either. If you break your arm, for example, it’s not like you lose part of you. Even if you’re an athlete and that means you can’t play your sport anymore, you aren’t any different, just your capability.”

That’s where Identity enters the mix. “Who am I?” Not “what,” or “how,” or any other of the five question types. “Who” in a way that isn’t answered with your name, or your job, or your sex, or your relationship to family members. Your personality. Who. Are. You?

Maybe if playing football is part of your identity, or you’re the “tennis guy”, and you suddenly sustain an injury that keeps you from doing that, then yeah, you lose that part of yourself. (For example, I used to do parkour but after a few injuries and “life thangs” eventually stopped. And it was weird, because to a fair number of people, I was “the parkour guy” or the “dude that can flip,” and when that was gone, there was an adjustment period, I won’t lie.) So, you lose that part of yourself, kind of…

But…do you really?

No.

Like, yes. But no.

See what I mean?

Anyway, the closest thing I’ve come to that’s an acceptable “answer” (in quotes because, ah, well you get it by now), are best illustrated by the two following sources:

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
I mean, spoilers if you have any interest in the game and haven’t ever played it, but that’s about all the warning I’m gonna give for an eight year old video game in an overdone seri- anyway!
At the end of the game, Number 16 (I think was his ID) has this big heart-to-heart with Desmond, and, with arms outstretched and his face to the sky, he drops the line, “What are we but memories? Huh!? The stories we tell ourselves!”
Think on that shit…

Set it? Cool.
If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you might remember the short I put up with the same name. And I always liked it, and it’s stuck with me, because there’s something about it that resonates. It checks a lot of boxes. “You are not your job.” Check. “You are not your bank account.” Check. “You are not your name.” Check.
We’re just…that. We are our life’s story. What’s the one thing you leave behind after you die? Your legacy. Your memory. People’s memory of what you did or how you impacted them or others. You are the things you do, the places you go, the stories you tell, the people you take care of, the hand you hold out to help, etc etc.

Some Philosopher’s Playlist I Listened To That One Time Yeah, I get it, less of a catchy title. We could always call it, “Some Philosopher’s Playlist I Listened To That One Time: Reloaded” or something, but anyway…
In it, and I think I’m going to butcher the quote since I’m just spit-ballin’ here, some unnamed older gentleman says something like the following:

We all go through up’s and down’s. And once, when I was on one of those down’s, I kept having a thought. It was the same, persistent thought. ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ And when I realized that I had that thought before, something occurred to me. I am not the thought. This thought is not me. And I wondered, how many thoughts, and how many people everywhere each day, have thoughts like this, thoughts that are not them? And it occurred to me… I am not the thought, I am the awareness.”

Okay, if I had you take a moment to let the first one sink in… Absorb that. “I am not the thought, I am the awareness.” Speaking of parkour (from earlier), one of my coaches, Brett, made a deceptively insightful comment one day that I overheard: “You know, you can’t control your mood, but you can control your attitude.”
Now, marry the two thoughts. You’re not the thought, you are the awareness. You are the consciousness, the phenomenal, inchoate, ethereal experience behind your eyes, behind your thoughts. Your thoughts aren’t you, they occur to you. Your mood/emotions aren’t you, they influence you – you, the one behind them.

So, I don’t know, in conclusion…take the above and just…mill on it. Like Izzy from Gray’s Anatomy once said: “My mom always said, ‘Trust the man who claims to seek the truth, but doubt the man who claims to have found it.’”
And I need to maintain my credibility ’round here.

Anyway, thanks for brain-wrestling with me.

Catch you Thursday.

Ciao.