Who am I? Am I this body, this mind, this soul? Perhaps, all three?
Body changes all the time, I’m told. Don’t have the same one I did a month ago, and it’s definitely gone through scillions of changes in the seven years I grew a completely new epidermis. That’s a new skin for any who’d like to compare man to a snake.
Am I the mind, the thoughts I get? But they change all the time, don’t they? Seems they hardly ever stay still, particularly when I try to rest, I find the mind flying like a Jedi Knight going this way and that, up and down rocky caverns of space created by one thought after another. Here, there, everywhere. In a flash, it shoots from the past to the future, showing me all possible “what if this happens?” and the “should have done this” regrets of the past. Are they the same thoughts I had yesterday, or maybe even five years ago? Same worries? Same concerns?
Is that who I am? A mind filled with fears, anxieties and possibly a few guilty or shameful thoughts? (I threw in Guilt for all my Jewish and Catholic friends, who can’t seem to live without it. The shame comes from combat duty, or maybe that girl I recall from the 6th grade [or was it the 6th Commandment?])
So that leaves the soul, or what I would like to call the spirit. Our spiritual self. The true self.
Why bring this up now, Michael J? Well, you did it again. Lost your identity when you lost the wad of ID and credit cards held together with a rubber band. Looked everywhere, but couldn’t find them after buying soda on sale and making a “killing” with products CVS lowered to 90% off, not to mention the candy marked down 75%. Pushing the cart full of items to the check-out, you argue with the cashier who tells you two items are not reduced. They are from the 90% rack, with 2010 Happy Graduation stickers on ’em, clearly markdowns needed to get rid of this third week in July, a full month after most high school closed, and nearly two months after college awarded graduate degrees.
“I can’t sell it to you for any price than what’s in the system,” the young woman says, herself one of those recent high school grads here in Roxborough, a section of Philadelphia. “Yes, you can,” I reply, with confidence. I’ve been in her place before, scouting sales and buying bunches of stuff over the years, as long as they were 90% off. Got a closet-full of ’em. “That’s store policy,” she says, pointing once again to the computer-generator technologically fine-tuned cash register, hoping I’d go away as she puts two items to the side, voiding their costs from the sales slip. She continues to ring up items, when I softly ask to see the manager. She pauses, kinda stutters, and gets perturbed. That’s the only way I can describe it. Well, irritated might be a little harsh. She’s being professional, trying not to let the steam rising in her to show. Her eyes and body language give it away: How dare a customer hold up the line to question something I had settled. I’ll fix him.
The young clerk flashes a teethy smile, one of those make-believe kinds, as she dials a number and starts walking away. Wait. my order’s only partially completed, I want to say. She marches to another counter to aid the next person, as I, weakling that I am, start to apologize for putting her through this difficulty. She never looks at me, as if she’s still wondering how some one with such audacity could dare challenge someone like her who was simply doing me a favor in the first place.
I wait. Did I do the right thing? Don’t really need this item. Let me get the other stuff and skedaddle, I say to myself. Too late, the manager, an older woman in her early 30s, appears from out of the back, asking me if there’s a problem. Now, I’m really in trouble. Having to justify my “challenge” to authority, I explain the nice clerk had charged full price for a Teddy Bear holding a sign of “Congratulations Class of 2010.” It came from the rack where I had gotten 90% off for an “Autograph Hound” soft animal sporting a similar sign for recent 2010 graduates. (Planned to give ’em as belated gifts to my high school-graduated son, Nicholas.)
For a moment, I feel like the sheriff in “High Noon,” as all sound stops except for the ticking of clocks, one after another, all aiming toward this life or death moment in my life.
Is this who I am? Who I have become, and will continue to be? Waiting for answers to critical questions I pose? Real critical! Must I pay $4.99 or 49 cents for this novelty item? Does it or anything else I’ve done with my life bring me any closer to who I really am?
Got the items for 90 percent off, and went to the next CVS for more soda and deals. Lost my wad of cards somewhere between stores. Had to return to the original place of the “showdown” and face that young clerk, who told me no one found anything I described. Flashed a plastic smile before I thanked her and left.
That’s what got me thinking whether I was nothing more than those cards: The driver licensed one, the ATM-user, USAA insurance-carrier, a USA government card-holder with a newly issued military ID showing a permanent disability and a social security number plastered over the face of the ID?
I sure hope not. And, as I meditate, trying to rise above and mingle more with the heart where I believe my “true self” resides, I feel the futility of my sensory body, and my mind’s multiple-personality-type-thoughts.
Not worried about the missing cards right now. No control over ’em. Plus, they ain’t who I am. I found I’m made up of more than all of them combined. Aren’t you?