Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Ever asked a kid who they are? Aside from the standard response of their name, you will also get a variety of responses being “My name is (insert name here) and...

“I can tie my shoes!”

“I can go pee-pee on the potty!”

“I have Spiderman shoes!”

“I am a cub scout!”

“I am four years old!”

Ask a teen to young adult and the response also expands beyond the name.

“Oh that is Brittany, she is a cheerleader!”

“My name is Doug, I am captain of the football team!”

“That is Jill, she is valedictorian!”

“Yeah, I think I have heard of him, he goes to Ohio State.”

“Doesn’t she own the blue Mercedes?”

As Adults:

“Wow, you are having lunch with him? Isn’t he the bank president?”

“That’s Darlene. She has twins and is married to the famous baseball player.”

“Don’t you know who I am, I could own you!!”

“How can I go to jail? It will ruin my reputation!”

“They are nothing. They don’t even have a full membership to the club.”

As we age:

“That is my son. He is the City commissioner.”

“I am the ex-CEO of such-and-such industries.”

“I am grandpa to seven wonderful kids.”

I guess I reflect upon this as I pondered for a moment on asking myself: “Who am I?”

I often times find myself trying to make this personal reconciliation when something changes in my life. At times it is also when I am trying to become okay with the fact of where I may presently be in my own personal timeline. Maybe I should be somewhere else. Maybe someONE else. Is what I am doing a good testimony to who I am supposed to be? My identity. What is this thing called identity anyhow? Why is it our name, our identity has to have some sort of subscript attached to it?

As I started to dig a bit deeper, I started to realize that for me to get to the bottom of my query I had to do a couple things. One was to separate my circumstances from what I call my identity. I quickly learned that I am not what my circumstances dictate. The most hurtful thing we can do is to attach our circumstances to a personal opinion of ourselves. Often these labels occur in crises such as financial difficulty, relationship squabbles, affliction and addiction, loss of property, separation from groups or people we care for.

In the past I would attach a negative label upon myself due to the addition or subtraction of one of the above mention categories. Who I am, the me deep inside does not have to change because of an endeavor, poor choice, good choice, or circumstance I found myself in. Bad circumstances do not make me a bad person any more than going to a football game makes me a quarterback.

So it stands, I am not what I do.

I also realize that things can come and go. In these recent economic times, many have been humbled by the realization that nothing, especially toys and money last forever. Sometimes one of life’s best lessons can be to lose some-things we worship. I realize that if I used to drive a Mercedes, and now drive a Chevy compact, I am no less a person. Should one think this to the contrary, explain to me how you may justify one’s “human stock” dropping after a hurricane because their belongings are destroyed. It doesn’t. Often their best assets surface.

I am not what I have.

I have time on my hands. I write a lot. I also get time to play. I do not have the time to try to manipulate nor adapt to what others think of me. I can live the life I believe I am supposed to. I can try to live on the greater side of good. I seek compassion and connection. If you don’t find any favor in that. So be it. I don’t have time to try to make you like me. Does my worth really grow if you do? I would rather be alone for the right reasons, than famous for the wrong ones.

I am not what others think of me.

In deep contemplation of “who I am”, I find it hard to explain. The moment I try to explain it, I label myself. Am I a Dad, husband, business owner, swell guy, martial artist, reiki practitioner, and foodie? Yes– by activity or practice, but it is who I am inside that allows me to connect to those things collectively. Who I am makes me seek them out, or try to be the best at those things, and yet, if those things change, who I am necessarily may not.

I find “who I am” is found in the space between. My identity goes beyond my name which was given to me without my consent (not that I dislike it). My identity is not tainted by opinions including my own. It is the music without sound and the light yet without luminescence. It is ethereal, nebulous, and spiritual. It is the part of me that doesn’t need a compass to know where my true North is.

Who I am is the part of me that I would be with no one around. It is the part of me who I would want to share with my most cherished loved ones. It is the me I long for, when who I “think” I am or should be is most present in the room. It is who I know I want to be. It is who I am okay with.

The “I” I seek is where I find peace. It is where I know. Where things seem correct. Struggle stops. No outside appreciation is necessary. It is from that peace and awareness I become most radiant, and therefore I end up becoming what my ego most often wanted me to become, just now with the substance to back it, but the humility to not need the adoration. I am a sum of my experiences. I am the recipe of myself that has no ingredients. Empty yet full.

I guess what I have found is that no matter the onslaught, and inversely the joys, I am still the same being. I am I.

I am not a title, hood ornament, number on a W-2, position, label on clothing, your opinion or mine, I am who I am supposed to be, and for once I really, really feel okay with that. No matter what I gain – I am the same guy. No matter what I lose – I am the same guy. If you love me – I am the same guy. If you hate me – I don’t care.

If you ask me who I am, my name is Tony. My identity is not my name and the labels past and present that may be pinned to it. Who I am is somewhere inside, protected and flourishing. I hope the real “me” gets to meet the real “you” someday.

The name will have to do for now...


YogaSavy said...

Great post. Reminded me when a journalist asked HRH Dalai Lama who he is and he replied " A human being"
Thank you for this great post.

Timberwolf123 said...

Nice Tony,

I'm not a big fan of labels. I think we all give them out to quickly to satisfy our own EGO (by labeling someone we feel superior to them). I have said for many years that I'm not my job & now for the past year I haven't had one. I, like you, don't worry about the label that comes in bad times mine is "unemployed" I am the same person I've always been & in some ways I'm better because of going through this.

We truly are an accumulation of our experiences but to me we're even more then that. I love to take the time to just "be".




Duane Scott said...

Really great post, Tony. We all need to hear this once in a while that it isn't the label that matters, it's the person we are in private.

I don't always like the person I am behind closed doors. Gotta change that. Good thoughts!

margg. said...

very thought provoking :)
excellent post.

Starfish said...

Every so often, the universe blesses us with a link to a to a great blog. Your posts draw me in to a trance-like state, like a really good meditation, and when I reach the end and turn my thoughts back to the world around me I feel rejuvenated. I view the world with fresh eyes and inspiration to live closer to my truer self. Thank you for sharing your insight and the wonderful gift you have to write from the heart.

Tony Anders said...

Thanks and love to you all for your kind words!

Stefanie said...

I love how you have a way of reminding us how we all are the same. Someone might look at you and think, "he's so cool, he's got it all figured out" and you realize that you are just trying to figure it out just like the rest of us. Thanks, Tony.

Charlene said...

Great post - something to think about, especially as our perspective changes with age.

(The blogger who uses the big girl potty now. ;-))

Melissa said...

REALLY like this one!