What is it like to be you? Now that’s an interesting question.

It seems innocent enough on the surface. It’s a harmless question, something we might playfully say to another when they say or do something typical of them, but peculiar in general.

But if we turn it around, it has a jarring barb on the end of it. “What’s it like to be me?” It’s easy enough to shrug it off with a joke or some arbitrary filler, but if we really ask, if we earnestly try to answer, the directionality of our minds seems to change.

The problem is in trying to find something to compare ourselves to. We can compare and contrast the things we’re aware of, such as, “What’s something that’s like a toad but not a toad?” I’m not sure what answer you came up with, but I went with, “Frog.”

What’s something that’s like ourselves? Other people seems like a good answer. But we can’t know others and their worlds from the inside out like we do ourselves. We don’t have proper clearance. So even that answer comes up short because it depends on speculation.

Armed only with what’s readily available to us—like a survivalist left in the mountains—without tricks or games, what’s it like to me?

I hear the clock ticking on the wall, a semi-hollow percussive sound like an old wooden drum with 3/4ths of it filled with sand. I hear the air cleaner, humming like some giant machine in an empty factory. Sunlight falls on the foyer tiles, and tree shadows shimmer across it like water. A cat pauses above its food bowl to stare at me before getting back to her meal.

The desk—for some odd reason attached to the kitchen wall—sits to the left of me, its surface littered with this and that, white as a tundra plain but as reflective as ice.

I feel my presence, the weight of me sitting here. Inside of it, what is there? A feeling. A desire to swallow stars and sift through time like the withered pages of ancient book.

A drink—Coors Light, that thin bread-like, slightly sour liquid making its way down my throat into the void space of my stomach which eludes my consciousness. Everything I am is on the outside. Where does it come from?

What is there between me and my experiences? What is there of me that’s leftover as experiences change? As gone as the dinosaurs is the me who started this entry, and yet I can’t help but inherit his laundry.

What’s it like to be me?

How else can we answer but with details of the situation we’re in? It’s like sunlight filtering through a dirty window, it’s like swallowing and breathing. It’s like a loud, alcoholic belch that fills the room with a roar. It’s like a pale blue sky behind winter trees and telephone lines.

It’s a sporadic ache, a quiet longing for a tender love. It’s perspective, the trained horses that get back to the path. It’s a mess, because it’s messy. But what can see the mess must itself be clean. Because as we’ve seen, what can be known without compare?

I’ll answer myself: Just This.

So, what’s it like to be you? I encourage you to reply in this same spirit of trying to describe what can’t be compared.

2 Comments

  1. I have a head that buzzes inside, a brain on a 25-cent kiddy ride that looks like an ostrich and really only vibrates.

    I wonder whose feelings and sensations we have right now because real experiences are new to us, staying in the body is new. We practice. Also new is realizing we feel other people’s feelings and sensations. We are discerners in this moment.

    I’m an endurance-liver (like an endurance runner, only specializing in staying alive). One more step. Then one more step.

    Black ice tea chills our teeth. The washing machine growls on spin. Younger child nibbles coconut. We are parent.

    We are chair fodder.

    Black-capped Chickadees hop among the hedge branches because we observe them.

    We are hunched, tense. Now relaxing them. Responsive. Changing as we type so, so slowly one key at a time on a virtual keyboard.

    Like

    1. Here, a ceiling fan spins overhead. A lazy spin, slow enough to gather dust. It has a light fixture on it. One of the bulbs is burned out, another is dim. The third one shines brightly.

      A fat cat sleeps on the table as the clock ticks on the wall. I breathe out as my thumbs tock across these digital keys.

      There’s light and shadow all around, and gleaming and reflecting surfaces of different shades.

      My birth father messages me, asking me to visit, saying I could stay for the summer and work with him. Always pushing, that’s his nature. Who’s he talking to anyway?

      To me, I’m no one’s son. How could I be? Inquiring into who I am, I find only this moment, this experience. The lazy fan, the ticking clock, the sleeping cat and all the thoughts and feelings that rise as their reflection.

      There’s a peace to this, an old feeling that’s always new. We share it now.

      Liked by 1 person

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