The Right Question

Who am I?

What kind of answer counts? Name? Job? Relationship status?

My name is an identifier, but not an identity. Jobs and relationships change.

Who answers? Me? My family? My friends?

The rune Sowelu represents wholeness. It speaks to becoming who you already are. But who is that? What is the essence of a person?

One way to approach this issue is the debate between essentialism versus existentialism. Is there an essence in place already, or does a person create an essence through their choices? As with so many important questions, this one skips over a preceding one: what is an essence of a person?

What does it matter if the essence is in place already or created after the fact, if we don’t know what it is?

For much of my life, the question of who I am has dominated my thinking. I have pestered others with it, hoping they might know. Hoping that they might have a connection to me that gives them that insight, and thus means that I belong somewhere.

“Is that the question? And if so, who answers? Who answers?” – Pearl Jam, “Alive”

For too long, I have tried to figure out who answers. I am starting to think that it isn’t the question. Who am I? The sum total of all my experiences, desires, beliefs, concerns, and more. And all of those can change. What sort of answer could capture that? What finite set of words could express that?

Who am I? That’s the wrong question, so every answer is also wrong. What’s the right question? Depends on who’s asking and why. 

The question I’ve been asking, for years, should have been: Where do I belong?

I’m still not sure I know the answer, but at least I know what the answer might look like.

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