Tuesday, March 07, 2006

the identities of jack, jerome and oscar

even before there was the possibity of assuming different identities on the internet, i recognized the freedom released if we might be more than one person...

what makes identity? are we what we do?

once i met a very insightful woman who was entering her fifth decade. somehow in her twenties she had made up her mind to change her profession every ten years. at the time, i was mystified by her courage and determination. it also seemed a remarkable way to think of one's self... not anchored by some decision early in life, but free to pursue new treasures through new pathways. at the time i met her, she was launching a new career as a film director, having been a teacher in the previous decade, and a writer before that. i think career choices touch on issues of identity, but i have always thought that identity was something more than what we do.

the woman was engaged in a linear transformation every decade, a new journey following an earlier engagement. and somehow i sensed that she did not regard these adventures as new identities but rather a deepening of the spirit through a wide range of exploration and achievement.

i am somehow refreshed by the thought that our lives can be more flexible and spontaneous by allowing ourselves to be more than what we may choose for a career... to understand that we can carry on many pursuits without surrendering the integrity of our humanity or betraying some notion of a value system that comfortably tucks us away in the pigeon holes we dig for ourselves.

not too long ago, i knew someone who was not only himself as jack, but also existed as jerome and oscar. the individuals in this trio had distinctive personalities, unique handwriting, and differing perspectives on life. they each loved the same girl and competed for her affection through letters and poems. she was very flattered by the attention, and wondered why she never had the chance to meet these suitors who seemed to know so much about her and celebrated her virtues through daily letters and notes left for her in curious places. far from being schizoidal, this was a playful vignette that unfolded as daily adventures and intrigue.

that was at a time when the world was more naive and innocent. now we live in a world full of menace and peril... many individuals are in the business of stealing identities... and fraud lurks as a lingering possibility in almost every encounter...

yet each of us may have multiple layers of existence stretching back to the beginning of the cosmos, many identities reflecting the infinity of being... expressed in the moment of becoming whoever we are or really may be in the next instant...

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