I was reading over old blog posts recently on my private blog when I found multiple mentions of not recognizing my life. As I try to write to explain how I’m feeling, I’m reminded of this quick passage I wrote in college
i read for the last section of my philosophy class about whether language determines thought or thought determines language. and in one section, the writer stated something about having a moment where you write something and erase it because it doesnt match what you are trying to convey. that moment where you cant find the words. he used that as proof that linguistic determinism doesnt exist.
I keep erasing what I’m trying to say and restarting because I can feel the words making my way onto the screen don’t match the feelings floating around my head. Sigh. Let’s get to the point –
The more I travel, the more expansive my own little world feels. I have memories sprinkled all over the world and it makes me feel both like I carry this massive world of experience inside of me and like who I am has been shredded and scattered out of reach. I can’t gather all the pieces of who I am. In a world that enables a near obsessive level of tracking and sharing, this is a hard thing to come to terms with (it also feels freeing). We delude ourselves thinking it’s attainable and sustainable to track everything only to find the very thing we are looking to track is impossible – you can’t bottle up emotions no matter how much data you record. I’m also learning more and more about disassociation and the role that has played in my life in dealing with trauma.
My grandfather had boxes of family pictures that he shared with me a couple of times growing up. He knew every single person in every picture and generally what each was from despite the scarce notes and scribbled dates. I am becoming more and more mindful of what I share now in light of remembering this. I want to be purposeful in what I share so that I remember it and can point to the value of it all. I’m torn though – remembering everything you store doesn’t necessarily make it more meaningful or powerful (more thoughts on this here). It’s also not like these pictures were all perfect photos of everyone. Some were off centered and out of focus pictures of a random, ordinary scene… This is besides the point 🙂
I don’t recognize my life because it’s blending with those around me. I’ve been practicing openness as much as possible when I leave my house – smile at the stranger, make room for someone at the coffee shop to sit at your table, give a word of encouragement at the gym, offer to take that couple’s picture at the beach, etc. By practicing this openness, my world view becomes less about my own life and more about those around me along with the collective. I’m beginning to see just how my actions influence another person’s day. It’s fantastic to realize just how truly connected we are with each other when I woke up to this (and I’m not talking about social media connections). The introvert in me is fascinated and terrified by this all at once.
Where do I end and another person begins? The simple answer is the physical one of flesh and bones. The more complex answer has to do with cultural norms, memories, conversations, connections, etc. I am choosing the complex one.