A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming, but we run so fast that is only when we seem to stop–a sitting on the rock at the brook–that we are aware of our own isness, of being. But eventually this is not static, for this awareness of being is always a way of moving from selfish self–the self image–towards the real.
Who am I , then? Who are you?
~Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle or Quiet, 1972.
I can’t decide if this idea scares me or relieves me.
I’m not a fan of change. I don’t like moving. (Hush Joe. Just because I have moved a lot doesn’t mean I like it.) The older I get the harder I find having everything in chaos. It feels like the edges of my self are blurred when nothing is in its place; when I don’t know the multiple ways around and through a town. And yet that seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Absurd that I would be so defined by the kin, if you will, of my environment.
On the other hand, thank goodness my “isness” is changing. There are so many versions of my self out there that I would prefer to never visit. How relieving it is to know that I don’t have to be the same, always.
How scary, though, the thought that neither does anyone else.
Why am I doing this? That’s a fair question. Why don’t we start with the easiest reasons, the shallow ones. I’m not kidding when I say that I look at those pictures of myself and wonder, “When did I become an old lady?” The cellulite (yes I know it is genetic) and the veins and stretch marks are all there. I’ve never been petite or even thin by any standard. I’ve been approximately this height and size since I was 12. But I always had youth on my size. At 34, I know I’m not ancient. I am, however, old enough to where the body is less forgiving of being pushed than it use to be. And it shows.
I suppose, though, that even the shallow reasons aren’t easy. Notice that I didn’t ask “When did I become my grandmother?” I’m not a perfect likeness of my grandmother or my mother. I don’t look like any one person in my family, not even my brothers who look like each other because they all look like my father. After years of searching for all my features in other people I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m such a conglomeration I end up looking like no one particular. And so, if I’m being honest, I must admit there is the smallest part of me, the part that always thought I didn’t fit in, the part of me that is still the chubby 9-year-old, the part of me that read books while everyone else played organized sports, that has great hopes. Hopes that under all this extra weight, there is a “me” that will look like everyone else in my family, which will prove, finally, that I belong with them.