Written by Michael Boyink in Thoughts on Life
Sometimes we feel stuck between who we are and who we are becoming.
Protestant, Catholic, Agnostic, or Atheist?
Minnesotan, Texan, Californian or Michigander?
Dad, Husband, Father, or Son?
Doctor, Writer, Chef, or Builder?
Our identities are a Rubik’s Cube — we spin and turn until coming up with just the right combination.
And just when we think we finally have it right, life grabs the cube and mixes it all up again.
Kids grow up. Jobs change. We move. Parents age. Businesses fold.
I’ve noticed people facing identity changes:
- My in-laws are dealing with an aging parent, dementia redefining the relationship between son and mother.
- A neighboring RVer talked about his battles with throat cancer. One surgery removed almost all of his ability to taste. He was a professional chef.
- My parents recently sold their retirement cottage, bringing nearly 8 decades of being Michiganders to an end.
What Are We?
We talked with an Italian Ethnographer, who asked if we self-identified as “location independent”. I struggled for a moment. That one label is not necessarily a flag we fly under.
We use phrases like digital nomads, fulltime RVers, suburbia-ditchers, and travelers — but we don’t really have one go-to way of describing ourselves.
We often return to our home of Michigan. While there we run into ghosts of our former selves — old photos, old news clippings, old awards, and old memories from families and friends.
I want to put on a Ghostbuster suit, “cross the streams” and turn those old versions of us into so much melted marshmallow.
But I don’t have a solid vision for:
- What’s next for Miranda
- What being empty-nesters looks like for MsBoyink and I
- How we’ll react when grandchildren enter the picture
Without something to replace the ghosts, I’m scared to fire up the ambulance sirens.
We’re also afraid of losing the history of who we were. We purged 5 crates of old memories, but one crate with scrapbook photo albums went back into storage.
Stuck between who we used to be and who we are becoming.
Stuck = Story
As an old Jeeper I’m familiar with being stuck.
Being stuck is stressful. Sometimes things break. Sometimes you need outside help.
But you know what always comes from being stuck?
A good story.
I’m choosing to embrace the stress of being stuck.
And waiting to see what story of freedom that comes from it.
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