The Search for Identity
You may call it by many different names but one would have to acknowledge that interpersonal human life essentially boils down to this search for one’s identity. It would seem as if this search has a developmental starting point for all of us, when the maturing brain of a small child begins to comprehend it’s surroundings, feelings, language, and thoughts in an attempt to create a coherent reality around, and within, themselves.
Unfortunately, for most of us, it is like finding your way through a very dark room you’ve never been in before… since the earliest of years are completely out of our hands, we depend on others absolutely, and once we are mature enough to take care of ourselves the concrete has already been set, so to speak. Meaning has been given to the world and all within it. The brain has already found it’s grooves, reacting automatically from what was absorbed during these dependent years of maturing. And so we begin, in earnest, a search for who am I. Am I nice, bad, smart, attractive, liked, disliked, cool, safe, confident, shy, scared…you know the battle that rages internally when growing up, right?
In, and through, time, it becomes more polished, what I’m good at, what I’m bad at, what I like, don’t like, am I artistic, athletic, intelligent. We receive both positive and negative feedback from those around us, helping to mold the ever changing, yet quickly solidifying impression we have of ourselves. What do I want to be when I grow up? Society provides the answers to the very questions it places in each mind. A doctor, lawyer, painter, baseball player, accountant, etc. Surely all of it, and this is but a fraction of what goes on within each and every individual, is a search for my identity. And as with all searching, the energy used up in ‘not knowing’ begins to dissipate. We become weary of searching, we find, we settle, we say this is what/who I am and then we work, evermore, to maintain and strengthen that. Slight improvements and upgrades here and there, and of course the sliding back into what I don’t want to be and the battle to overcome that, but basically we settle somewhere, set up shop, and maintain. We are now fixed, set in stone, we are and we defend what we are.
In this light there is no higher or lower, it is the same exact movement driving each of us on, whether we become lawyers, priests, or bus drivers, it is the same drive for an identity and the settling for that which defines us to others.
I would suggest that everything on Earth serves to create this static-state, one’s identity; religion, nations, race, family, politics, culture, history, experience, resistance, personal traits, our body, our abilities, etc… So, together, as an experiment, what if we made the decision to put down our identity. Just for a moment, right now, while we read this blog together. Allow the searching for an identity, and the maintaining of the identity one already has, to stop. And in that space, in that vacant space, what do you find remains?
Isn’t it quite clear that this search for an identity is actually driven by the fact that you already have an identity, one you’re just not completely satisfied with, one you feel is incomplete, insufficient. An identity that doesn’t exactly measure up to what/where you are to be? I don’t like the identity I presently have, it MUST be modified, refined in some way, it must be changed, it must become something else. Maybe you are the rare bird where none of this is happening, I suppose there have been a few, but for the rest of us, for me, I’ve found the fact that one’s identity is never complete, never finished nor satisfactory driving the search for an improved one, a different one, a better one. Which keeps the mind, and therefore oneself, in an agitated state, all the time. And yet, when I face the identity I already have, right now as it is, and acknowledge that it can be perceived as being finished, complete, not perfect or even likable at times, just an end product in and of itself, and in need of no more time or attention, a question arises that doesn’t arise when the search to modify, find, or maintain is operating.
That question is, ‘why does the mind need an identity at all?’
Now this question has a feeling component that one cannot deny, if it is only words, it’s beauty is missed. But if you can feel the question, because you have gone to that place of acknowledging the ending of identity-maintenance, as well as suspending all energetic movement into the search to become different, I dare say the question, itself, reveals an entirely new mind. A new mind which is capable of manifesting a new life.