Friday, May 06, 2005
Yes, I know the shirt above is schwag for this movie, a white-washed bastardization of a Sidney Poitier classic. However, besides it being FREE schwag my sister gave me (her continual giving me clothes being a testament to my complete lack of fashion sense), the shirt happened to illustrate a thought floating in and out of the back of mind recently.
who am i?
My friend Jon recently wrote a personal entry that I sympathized with about that question. As a person who claims to have faith in Christ, I can say intellectually that "my identity is in Christ". I can point out passages of Scripture that drop heavy terms like "child of God" and "beloved" in reference to who I am, but honestly, it can be struggle at times to understand what all those things mean in a personal and practical sense.
Self-definition seems to be an unspoken obsession of all people. Westernized culture seems occupied with defining ourselves by what we do and what we have. Eastern culture seems to emphasize definition via attainment and being. I'm generalizing a lot, but watch 30 minutes of TV and you'll be convinced you're just one SUV, two lovers, three beers, and a handful of pills away from claiming your humanity... or hike a mountain in Asia, meet a guru, meditate for 40 years on the fact your existence is nothing in the fabric of nothing.
People want to define an identity for themselves.
For myself, I'm almost paralyzed by the fact that I more or less settle for letting everything and everybody else define who I am. The categories and labels I carry - Chinese, Asian, American, male, brother, son, cousin, nephew, friend, boyfriend, teacher, student, unemployed, employed, teammate, figher, radical, hip.hop fan, movie critic, geek, gun-nut, gamer, intellectual, artistic, unpunctual, radical, progressive, conservative, spiritual, obtuse, deep, angry, easygoing, sarcastic, paradoxical, faithful... child of God? - all of them by mere accident of birth, ability, upbringing, personality, or personal interests. I don't think I've ever made a serious effort to claim any of these titles.
Instead, it feels like I spend more time fighting, attacking, and avoiding the terms that I don't want to be defined by - chink, gook, slantback, zipperhead, backstabber, traitor, pussy, coward, crybaby, cheater, jerk, selfish, boring, mindless, leech, loudmouth, pretentious, greedy, shallow, worthless, tool, zombie, loser... FAILURE - and I think that I'd almost rather be dead than to be thought of as such by the people I care about the most.
But again, the question comes back... who am i?
Much of the last couple of years has forced me to reckon with that question and the ramifications of the answer I choose to define myself by. In frequent moments of weakness, I've let circumstances dictate how I define myself and on days where even waking up was hard, I lamented the fact that my life lacked a "rewind and erase" button. It took a journey outward to a different country to help ease the journey inward. Sorta like taking a really long roadtrip.
And so, I'm still walking, trying to trust in the answer I've chosen. Gotta take His hand and walk where He leads...
Song of the moment: The Kry - Take My Hand (right click & "save as...")
yea it's def interesting to see how Western culture(s) is/are obsessed with self-actualization/affirmation.Post a Comment
i think im defined by my Ikea furniture.