What exactly defines me?


So I was thinking today, what exactly defines me as who I am? I certainly don’t expect to stumble upon the answer alone, but it got me writing and that’s the important thing!

Is it my memories? Do I wake up each morning and become myself again, as in the briefest of moment I recall the chain of events throughout my life, the first toy, first memory of dawn, first prayer, first sweater, first day at school, first hug, first kiss, everything leading up to the last time I crawled into bed the night before?

How do I know I’m really me then considering how many times I passed out cold before finishing my drunken banters? Could I have misplaced my memories with someone else’s in the pub, and wake up another person? Thankfully chances of that are slim, as unless my friends are all being overly accommodating of the constant changes in my personalities and contradicting stories about my evil crossing dressing twin brother Roy.

Of course they could have been friends I exchanged with said person in the pub the night before. Thankfully Facebook and Flickr photo albums should protect me from any identity crisis for now…

Still. I don’t remember any mornings when I recalled every details of my life leading up to bedtime the night before. There aren’t ever buffering periods before I resume my personality, I just rub my eyes instinctive, turning over face down towards the pillow till I suffocate myself awake. So could my identity stretch beyond simple memories?

Maybe who I am is defined by my current actions? Even your memories of me can be distorted, or simply dated depending on when our paths last crossed. I’m not the same person I was yesteryear, how do you know the me residing in your memories is who I really am? I am here, physically, and I will slap you in the face if you argue otherwise, had I been there right now. Now that’s something yesterday’s me wouldn’t have done!

Case and point my recent email with a long lost aunt led to this very same topic – she mentioned this little boy she used to see, still lingering in her memories, and it was as though she is talking to a complete stranger now when we speak. Merging the two identities proved a challenge she had to embrace, will I forever be two different persons in her mind? Time will tell I guess…

My action right now, writing this blog, could define me as who I am. I mean, what can be more true? We are as true to who we are at this very moment, right? Even if everything that happened prior to this moment can influence the way I act – be it my sitting posture (leaning so far back that I’m nearly sliding off my landlord’s chair), my ability to type 60 words per minute, the choice of words and grammar as I punch these sentences into the computer – I can still make a choice right now to do something completely random.

I choose to eat a Satsuma before resuming (om nom nom) this sentence. Even if I can’t choose to do every possible action in the world right now, there’re still infinite possibility right now to take an action out of the ordinary. As much as I am still the same person, I can choose to be someone else.

But. And here’s a big but. Does what I do, or what I want to do, matter more in defining who I really am?

Say I want to be a drummer. Through that desire I choose to take the action of signing up for drumming lessons. Through the drumming lessons I might become a real drummer, I might not. But my desire to becoming a drummer is what prompted the action of taking drumming lessons on the first place, to tap my foot endlessly on buses to the bass line of songs on my iPod, to try and decipher which cymbal, drum pad and the timing of the bass drum on the current song I’m listening to. But I am not a drummer.

Who I want to be in the future (a film maker / writer, part-time drummer, fundraiser), and what I want for my future (wife, kids, friendly neighbours), influences (but not necessarily dictates) what I do today. Of course, backtracking a bit, it’s the past experiences that led me to the desire of becoming a drummer, past experiences also influence whether I’m willing to try new things as much as the next person, past financial decisions impacts how much I can afford on drumming lessons.

Yet again, for every limitation my past presents to me, there’re infinite possible futures in my path. If my past love or prejudices with certain stereotypes can be broken in an instance of the present based on how I feel right now, then my imagination is the only boundary to who I might want to be tomorrow.

Then who the hell am I, and what defines who I am?


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