So many people know precisely what they are.
Who they are.
I know the numerical demographic markers that apply to me given the myriad surveys I’ve completed in my life. I know my age group, my income bracket, and I know that I’m “male” as well. But the other stuff? I struggle.
Religion? I don’t know. Even my spiritual proclivities are tough to nab. It’s an eclectic amalgamation of literature and people who say things that ring deeply true to me. So…there is a very clear faith present. I don’t need incontrovertible and observable data to prove everything I believe. I know that there are things…most things, I think…that I will NEVER understand or even superficially grasp because they are simply outside of my ability to sense, perceive, and even conceive as a human with a human brain. So, “I don’t know” is the only thing that makes sense, but that gives me NOTHING to hold on to.
Race? I don’t know. And yes, I know I’m “white,” and I indicate “white” whenever I’m asked, but I’m deeply skeptical of the entire social construct of race. Actually, I disown it. I know it seems pedantic, but I subscribe to the larger fact that humans are one race, and as we gained access to tools and language, growing our frontal lobe and corpus callosum and other brain structures that make us social, intelligent, seemingly civilized beings…we began demarcating based on superficial features and geographical origins. And it seems to me we’ve done almost only horrible, unconscionable shit based upon the invented construct of races. So, “human” is the only thing that makes sense, but that also leaves me dissatisfied.
Political affiliation? None. Really. None. I get so overwhelmed and feel utterly under-informed and inadequate when I hear a person tell me something like, “I’m a fiscal conservative in the vein of Reagan but a social libertarian,” or “I’m a Social Democrat with deep Christian values,” or whatever. Hawk/Dove. Republican/Democrat. Pragmatist/Humanist. Conservative/Liberal/Neo-Liberal. Socialist/Capitalist. I’m a little of everything sometimes and a lot of some things most of the time and vice versa always. So…independent is the only thing that makes sense, but wtf does that actually mean?!
Do you know what the flag atop the mile high pole of “independent, agnostic, human” shows? A big, bold, black, teasing, taunting question mark in the middle of a same-colored field. Every known visual wavelength absorbed and spat out opaque. You can’t see it. But you know it’s there.
A question. (Sometimes it feels like an emphatically stated: Fuck you!)
If I can cut out all of the emotional overlay, all of the experiential bias layering, all of the limitations of this human body…what is the core temperamental value that guides everything for me? We have to be able to boil it down to one thing, right? I know, I know…I’m compartmentalizing and fragmenting the holistic Greg. But even my stated angnosticism, the spirit of “I don’t know” to which I cling so desperately, is really a defense mechanism protecting my reflexive righteousness tendency. Every time I claim, “agnostic,” I’m standing firmly, straining actually, on the neck of an inner voice that wants to scream, “Fuck you! I know it all. I know. The truth. All of it. Not you. ME! I’m perfect or I’m nothing!!” If I let off even an iota the voice inhabits my entire being and becomes me.
Okay. Do me a favor. Look back up at the title of this. See that. I wanted, badly, to write it as, “So many people claim to know what they are?” Thus allowing me that mainline of pure, unadulterated, Walter White quality righteousness.
And I don’t want it.
(But sometimes, goddamit, I need it. I needs my precious.)
So I let it up. Intentionally. Calmly. Patiently. Like Harvey Keitel’s Wolf from Pulp Fiction. It can’t be healthy to hide and hate a part of myself. I try to embrace it. I write and podcast and make my entire brain public domain, thus tearing off the shroud and exhibiting my whole self.
Human. Agnostic. Independent.
Yet…utterly interdependent, faith-filled, and such a product of my upbringing, socio-economic status, racial birthright, gender, income bracket, and experience set that I’m literally every box the census records.
Maybe I do know precisely what I am, and I just don’t love it.
And that’s a topic for another day.
Every day, really.