I lost my wallet.
And found a new freedom that only the loss of identity could possibly grant me.
The wallet fell somewhere from a back pocket in between a home for the elderly where I parked, and a Quaker Meeting Hall where I attended a class on “Difficult People.” I called the instructor of the nearly 3-hour meeting, a Reiki teacher visiting from her Brazilian homeland. “No,” she answered via a voice mail message,” No one has found any wallet,” she said into the recording device. (I preserved her response so that I can more easily re-discover her lessons by listening to her voice.)
I spoke with the Quaker secretary, a quiet, soft-spoken woman of the Society of Friends, who scoured the meeting room and found nothing there and nothing in the lost and found bin. Even the spokesperson for the Mt. Airy “Learning Tree,” where I registered for the Germantown (PA) spiritual session, uncovered nothing new in my quest to regain the sole means of my identity.
I began to feel like a “non-person,” a man without a home. A creature without a name, without a calling, without a past or proof of a “self” for the nearby future.
No ATM card, no driver’s license, no military ID, no attorney license.
Nothing. All lost.
And then a line from an old Janis Joplin song came to me: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose . . .” The soulful cry belted out for that fellow I always admired and envied, the wandering character, “Bobby McGee.”
I could not spend money beyond the slight cash I carried in my pockets. My choices were gone.
I had to convince the guard at the VA facility I sought treatment the following day that I really was a veteran; I showed him the typed list of medicines I took daily that were prescribed with the VA’s imprimatur stamped on it.
I even had to turn down a pro bono request to represent a woman in Family Court seeking to safeguard her rights in a custody suit. I had no license to practice law, I told her, advising her what to say to the Judge for a continuance to decide if she could retain free legal service for those in need of, but can’t afford to hire, a lawyer, to possibly represent her at her next court appearance.
Then it dawned on me: I felt free.
Free of responsibilities and desires that either called for or needed an identity card to fulfill or get. Free to stay at home and decipher what this new “loss of identity” meant to and for me.
I learned that I did not have to be “me” anymore.
I didn’t have to be the person tied to (perhaps shackled to) beliefs and ideas I had absorbed all of my life from outside sources, activities and a credo imposed by others. I could be someone else. Anybody else. Some anonymous person that I always secretly wanted to be, but was too afraid of becoming for fear of ridicule, humiliation by peers, or possibly the victim of a hate crime.
Contoveros arose inside of me. I embraced the idea that I could speak to the World, give my opinion about anything, share my self with whomever may be drawn to me, through the use of this name, this signature word, this Contoveros Blog.
“Singer of Truth” is the rough, Greek interpretation of Contoveros. It also was the name of my father and his father before him. I started using it to sign ceramic art works I had crafted as part of a therapy session I attended at a PTSD program for veterans. “Contoveros” was also the artist name I signed to paintings and drawings I later created during art and drawing classes I took for the first time in my life several months ago.
Now, Contoveros will be my pen name, my new identity for the person I want to use to spread and share with others my life realizations. I got something to say, and nobody will ever keep my voice silent again, I thought.
Of course, I was the main one that could censure this new persona. I found through dreams and daily (sometimes two and three times a day) meditation journeys, that I was changing, developing a more mellow view of reality and wanted to learn if I was simply raising questions of my mortality, or if I found some truths, some universal ideas that transcended time, class and religious upbringings.
Hell, why not put them out there; put my internal queries into writing for all of cyberspace to view, disregard or possibly comment upon.
It’s a great feeling.
* “Sometimes, you have to lose yourself to find yourself.”