Who are you? Without a name or a place of birth or a skin color or even a country of origin-who are you? What is it that makes you-you and everyone else something different? How do we distinguish ourselves from the 7 billion or more individuals who share this planet with us? And what’s more, what does this mean?
I write about this and contemplate its significance with somewhat nauseating regularity but it is still something that burns me to my very core. What is it that makes us unique and irreplaceable yet so obviously similar? In my mind, I can see that beneath all the physical trappings and personal perceptions we are basically one thing. We are all extensions from the same source. But even with this in mind, it doesn’t negate the fact that we each have a specific role to play which couldn’t possibly be filled by anyone other than ourselves. The universe is like an enormous jigsaw puzzle which requires our exact shape to put it all together. Without our contribution, the overlying image would never manifest.
We are one of a kind and yet made from the exact same material as every other living being on the planet. We live lives that are distinct and unparalleled yet indistinguishable in respect to basic function and design. So, how is it that we have such different desires and dreams? How is it that our joys and sorrows can stem from such different experiences? How is it that we celebrate autonomy while at the same time, fear death because of the anxiety of separation?
It seems to me that we are one great paradox-that who we think we are really only depends on the things we clearly are not. And as a result, who we truly are-the whole and complete and inseparable nature of all life, is sacrificed at the alter of individuality-of an isolated self. Our personal monologues become the masks that we wear while the complex drama of interdependence fades like the skins complexion when hidden from the sun.
And yet, with all that being said, with all the confusion and ignorance being so glaringly obvious-there is music. There is art. There is theatre and dance. There is friendship and family. There is community and cooperation. There is a plethora of creative expression that unites the personal experience with the great commonality of living.
What we see on the surface is never the entirety of a thing. What we call truth and reason are only seasons of majorities influence. The difference between self and other is like the difference between water and snow-they are the same but different. They are identical and one of a kind. The only way to resolve the irritation of contradiction is to close your eyes and let them absorb into your skin.