As one would say that when people (most people!) get older, they become reticent or they start reminiscing about the past more than they ever did before. Well, for me, I think I have become much more aware of who am I or what is it that I do in being me.
This may sound like a philosophical discourse but to give an example, I can say that earlier “being me” was a preoccupation with what I did or not and who received it or not, etc. Today, I am far more aware of who am I in the way that I am. Very simply speaking I am aware that my way of speaking, my intonations, my expressions and my way of relating, given that I am a hypertensive, impatience, critical, anxious and intense individual, generates whole lot of feelings for whole lot of people in various ways. for some people, my expressions create disturbances like intimidation, fear (depends on where the person is on the power structure vis-a-vis me), irritation, repulsion, withdrawal, etc; for some it creates a sense of identification, and yet for some, it creates a sense of curiosity. This results in all kinds of dynamics in my relatedness with various people at all levels. I have just about started looking at this process, though I am not sure what to do about it, except to be more aware of it. I am not even sure whether there is anything that needs to be done.
However, this post was not about what happens in my relatedness with people, this post is about who do I think I am.
For a while now, I have been noticing that my identification of who am I is quite strong with working class men and women – they may be bus drivers, domestic workers, autodrivers, etc but mostly this identification is with the working class women.
As I delved deeper into it, I realised that my identification with them is not necessarily where they come from or what they do, but more in terms of who they are intrinsically – i.e. how they view at their own lives, view their relationships and with what do they compromise with and with what they don’t. This then brought to me the question of dignity and respect for the self. I noticed that no matter how awful the situation at home/life may have been, most of them (obviously i cannot generalise) have a great sense of dignity and respect for who they are. For most of them believe that the world is not a very bad place, that they are willing to put their faith and trust in some higher power, put their faith and trust in other people, in relationships, in hopes for the future, and that they are worth something.
Most of them are also ever willing to learn new things for themselves, enjoy very small things in life like a song, a smoke, a hearty laugh, a new dish cooked in jest, a little banter here and there. Most of them are willing to bear themselves open in front of relative strangers, offer help, share their disappointments, disapprovals and unhappiness openly and receive the same from others and once it is done, leave it behind and move on. Most of them offer their resources and stories to others and in turn do not shy away in receiving support with grace.
I have learnt and continue to learn a lot from these friends and compatriots in my life, the Jyotsnadis and Jayammas of this world. I believe my identification is with the resilience and with the willingness to bear all, make a mess of things, learn from it or not, and and to never say die.
My friends and fellow analysts will probably find many meanings in this, but the only meanings I find here is that somewhere, somehow I was coded and infected with a working person’s identity and the definition of this identity is to live life to the fullest – with its raw, ugly, festering and unbearable wounds out in the open, never to hide, never to shy away and to say to life: “this is who I am, take it or leave it”.
However, I think the basic difference between me and my compatriots is that they do make this statement “this is who I am, take it or leave it” in the way they live their lives. I, on the other hand, am not sure that I have been able to make this statement to myself at least, as yet.
I wish I do, soon.
6 thoughts on “who am I (part 1)”
Sarbari, I found the note lucid and poignant. There is only one thought that I wish to add to this rumination. I have often caught myself wondering what kind of ‘dreams’ do the working class have? Can they dream of a ‘next year’ or a ‘next decade’ or ‘old age’? And even if they can, are those dreams vivid pictures in their minds or are they kind of hazy.Or are their dreams limited to only the next ‘festival’ or the next month etc.Its the dreams and aspirations which make the difference between ease and unease, peace and misery of life and living. Its also how rooted they are to the ‘here and now’ not because they learnt ‘process work’ but because the demands of living will not allow them to think beyond. I cannot say the same about myself.
@sarbani: thank you for reading and commenting on the post. 🙂
While I agree with you in general about the dreams, I think I have seen and heard their dreams for future too …… Aspiring for their children, for themselves, for a future that is better than today. I do see less pessimism among them today than I witnessed in the yesteryears whereas I see more pessimism and cynicism among the middle and upper middle class today. May be we are slowly coming to the end of our envisioning of our future.
Just remembering a small workshop I had conducted for child domestic labour. Mostly between 14yrs and 18yrs. They were asked to draw on the theme ‘Future’. Mostly everyone had drawn huge buildings except one girl. While analysing the pics I found these buildings though spacious and colourful didn’t have the most important thing. The Door. It was a revelation for me. Upon further discussion, it emerged, that though they had ‘fantasies’ about a better life yet deep down they did not really believe they would ever enter that spacious future.
The only girl who had drawn a small hut, neat and clean was the only one who later prospered in life, finished her education( Madhyamik) and is now working as a health worker. It was only her in whom I had found a vivid picture of the dream.
Might seem irrelevant to your note, but just felt like sharing. 🙂
I loved this piece about coming to terms with who we are and what with life throws at us with grace and resilience
Thank you Anita.