What is identity?
As a poet the idea of who I am is fluid; a becoming.
I am a poet and political being, creative facilitator and cat cushion. I am between able-bodied and disabled. I am born and live in a mix of cultural heritage. Faith and science stand for me in partnership. I am on the bridge. That has become a fundamental part of my identity. When I am useful in conflict resolution or creative in arts or pertinent in a political debate it is because I am on the bridge.
It is my birthday tomorrow on a (semi) palindrome. We have had a few of those dates lately and many have believed it was the end of the world. It was not. Maybe a time for reflection though. In essence I have two birthdays, though one I don’t really celebrate. By the Hebrew calendar I have already turned into my next year at the beginning of the month of trees, a time to celebrate the tree of life and our place in nature. Also a time when we remember the long negotiations and hardships, political and environmental disruption before the first recorded emancipation of slaves in history. This is one tradition; a herstory that helped form many.
How bound are we by the letters and numbers of history? How much do we expand from patterns and return to them?
In ancient Hebrew our take on the tenses does not place ‘now’ as a fixed point. Time has a circumference. When Moses asks the divine essence what its nature is the answer can be translated ‘I am the becoming’. More fully ‘I was and will be’ are in the definition. I am sure scholars will argue. I speak from my own understanding, and indeed even Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sachs states that the divine gave Moses an answer in future tense. This leaves us and our lives as part of the becoming. We are part of a oneness and our choices count. At sunset once a week, Jews light candles and call for Shalom. Most know this as meaning ‘peace’. It is in fact one of many names, both male, female and neither, given to the divine oneness. Outside this tradition are many other names. Shalom is completeness, justice, peace, divinity and it comes only when it is within our identity, within our acts, words and envisioning. Our will is vital. Each human; each life form is part of an ineffable oneness. This is part of my identity; part of my concept of the world and myself that leads me to feel both precious and small.
Science tells me I am part of a oneness too; part of an eco-system, solar-system, a universal consciousness. Science too identifies me as something that was, is becoming and will be something else, for every thing is in transition, change and alteration, yet energy never dies. I am not the fixed point but, as all life is, I am made of eternal energy.
To some I am a spark in thunderstorm or mad cat woman who grew up not particularly liking cats. For me identity is not fixed but part of white noise consciously trying to become chorus with all.
but, if someone should ask, I could say I’m a girl on the bridge.