I’ve gone through many different versions of myself in my lifetime. A lot of times, many versions at the same time.
My parents divorced when I was very young, so when I was a kid I would be a different version of myself when I was with one or the other, due to their personal preferences, particularly in how they wanted me to behave. So from early on in my life I battled with the idea of my “true self” or what that even meant. I was content with being a good kid. A kid that listens.
As I grew older and more rebellious, I started to form a clearer image of myself, “the person I really was.” Going so far as to leave school and work in a tattoo shop. I was a rebel. A badass. Until one day, I almost lost my life in a severe car wreck. I felt different afterwards. It wasn’t so easy to be “myself” anymore. My strange relationship with religion, which by that time was already tepid, started to play on my mind. I was less confident about the prospect of an afterlife. The idea that “this one life was it” haunted me. So over time I reinvented myself once again, changed the way I think.
I had a whole new-age thing going on. The power of attraction. One with the universe. Painter. Young artist. It was good. And then one day a group of large terrifying men broke into my place and fucked up my life. I started typing up a description of the events, dear reader, but even now it’s too much to think about it without my skin crawling. Long story short: nothing was ever the same after that. Post-traumatic stress ate away at me. The feeling of living in a totally absurd, directionless existence overwhelmed me.
Things changed again. I floated. A leaf in the wind. Lost and scattered. A type of never-ending day-dream of immature meaningless events. I could no longer maintain control. Now the aloof artist. The loner. Godless heathen. Now, of course, this dramatic retelling of events is rife with hyperbole. My life has nuance and diversity. These are just some of the stories I tell myself. More often than not I (and I like to believe others as well) do this often: we tell ourselves stories, about ourselves. But you see, there are also other stories.
The story of myself as an artist. The story of myself as a filmmaker. The story of myself as a theist. There are many stories. Sad stories, happy stories, and all the stories in-between. Who am I now? Who will I be tomorrow? How many versions of me have their been? Another story: husband. Another: father.
What a story.
I could write a book on fathers. Grand-father, father-father, step-father, father-figure, myself a father. Fatherhood. I’ll be honest: the majority of fathers in my experience leave very little to be desired. But (I like to believe as with most fathers) becoming a father does change you. I’ve been a stepfather for a while, but now that I have a kid of my own. My own identity seems less important. The way my child sees me is important, her story of me. I want it to be a good story.
I still feel like I live in an absurd, directionless existence which often overwhelms me. My wife, the people we know, family, friends; everyone is a little lost, so they use stories to find their way. I don’t “believe” in much (I’m more of an evidence kinda guy) but I do like the idea of “doing good for goodness sake.” You don’t need hellfire to threaten you into being good. The world is a little easier for everyone when you are. I want to teach that to my kid.
Humanism: a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over the acceptance of dogma or superstition.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism
Life is complicated. We often make it more complicated by confusing our stories with reality. Yes, people have hurt me, but at the end of the existential day, all we really have is each other. Humanism. I like that. That’s my story for now. That’s the story I want to tell my kid.