Who Am I?
An “About Me” for people interested in this spirituality/philosophy/personal growth/aesthetics/fiction publication of mine
I realise that as writers go, I don’t give away an awful lot about myself. I write under a pseudonym, I don’t show my face, I don’t talk about my ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, class or age. The most I’ve said about myself is that I’m a Christian millennial — spirituality is pretty fundamental to my writing, and being a ’90s kid is so relevant to some of the generation-war stuff I write about that it can’t help but come up.
Why the secrecy? Partly because it’s freeing — I don’t write particularly inflammatory stuff but it’s nice to think I could express my political views without reservation if I wanted to. Partly because I’m actually pretty open about my emotions, quirks and psychological problems, and I’d rather some of the people I know in real life didn’t know all there is to know. (I honestly don’t know why this isn’t an issue for more writers. I admire you all.)
And partly because I want my views to speak for themselves. If people disagree with me on something, I’d rather they engaged with the substance of the argument than wrote it off with an ad hominem like ‘Well you would say that, you’re an X’.
But when it comes down to it all arguments come from somewhere, and my life experiences bleed pretty directly into how I think and what I think about. So I’ve decided it’s time to put (some of) my cards on the table. You may not know my name or what I look like, but you may as well know a few other things about me if we’re going to be friends.
This post is about who I am and the next one is about what I do. Read this one to get more of a handle on my psychology and interests, read the next one if you want to know what I’m trying to achieve with this publication and where I see it going. If for some masochistic reason you want to know more, feel free to ask me anything not related to my name, face, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, class or age.
And off we go!
- Backstory up to my early 20s: was conceived, spent 9 months doing nothing much, was born. Raised by a Catholic mum and a Protestant dad, which gave me an early opportunity to make different belief systems do battle in my head. Grew up watching Rugrats, playing a lot of piano and incessantly drawing cartoons. Homeschooled a lot, got into self-directed research pretty early. Found college (world religions, film) invigorating at first and hung on for a while, but knew it’d be a mistake to stay there.
- The last 5 years: turned to professional music with very occasional sprinklings of writing, proofreading and bar work, and eventually got into doing this. Have travelled a fair bit. My favourite approach is picking a single country and moving extensively through it: so far Greece, Italy and Tanzania have received this treatment, and I’m hoping to see India some day. Have spent my adult life getting less and less certain about everything and allowing myself to entertain more and more possibilities: what if the Bible wasn’t all literally true? What if Hinduism was onto something with reincarnation? What if the left got some things right? What if the right got some things right?
- Currently fascinated by all things Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist since reading Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha back in January. I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed my life. Have spent 2020 devouring all things Hesse, the Tao Te Ching, the Chuang Tzu, Chögyam Trungpa, Thich Nhat Hanh and Ursula K. LeGuin. I’ve also been undergoing therapy for the past few months and am hoping to write extensively about all the fascinating and occasionally disturbing things I’m learning.
- My personality: If I was to go off the Enneagram — not a scientific system but I like it anyway — I reckon a 4 with strong lashings of 3 and 5. In other words, an introspective/creative type who also pushes themselves (3) and likes to analyse things (5). Sometimes 3 and 4 clash (I want to be lazy and productive simultaneously) and sometimes they work together (I create for hours on end). Sometimes 4 and 5 are in harmony (when I write) and sometimes they aren’t (when I overthink things, or my hardheaded side ruins my inner mystic’s fun). I love my own company but not quite enough to be a complete hermit. Run the gamut from total stillness (when meditating) to manic energy (when playing live music) but spend most of my time in between. Working on being less self-controlled.
- Alcoholism and autism run in my family. I’m not personally an alcoholic, but I can see addictive tendencies in there, particularly around food and my stupid phone. And while I’m not autistic, enough of the patterns have rubbed off on me that I understand a lot about how people on the spectrum think and tend to gravitate towards them as friends. I just find them more interesting than neurotypicals.
- So do OCD, depression and anxiety. OCD is a fairly major problem for me, although I don’t exhibit many of the conventional signs and people don’t know about it unless I tell them. Working on the issue has been one of the major challenges of the past year. I’m not clinically depressed or anxious, but my natural melancholia can easily tip into one or the other. Fortunately, I also have deep reservoirs of excitement and curiosity. The pursuit of peace is very important to me and I want the word “joy” to make a comeback.
- Strong spiritual side, strong analytical side, strong creative/emotional/“right brain” side. My mind is so busy keeping all three of these going that it has virtually no use for a practical side or a standard life goals side, and I’m as bad at reading maps as I am good at reading philosophy. Sometimes my rationalism, spirituality and strong feeling work together (what a rush!), sometimes they all pull in opposite directions (what a drain!). All of them come with their own specific problems, but I wouldn’t ditch any of them because they all give me deep happiness in different ways.
- Loves: writing (shocker!!!), travel, humour (stand-ups, films, shows, cartoon strips, shaggy dog stories), forest walks, cycling, swimming in the sea, music (listening, watching, reading, researching, composing, recording, group playing, solo playing, improvising, classical, jazz, pop, rock, funk, soul, all of it, all the time).
- Hates: racism, sexism and systemic oppression. Kidding, I love all those things. Kidding again. Let’s see…I hate envy, self-doubt, overwhelm, fear and guilt because they stop me living my life the way I’m meant to. I’m often amazed at how wonderful a day can be when I manage to avoid these traps.
Publishing articles in The Small Dark Light makes me feel good too. Check out my next post if you want to know more about my hopes for it.