There was a discussion on Twitter recently regarding whether there is such thing as a fixed “core” identity, or whether identity is more fluid than that. It’s an interesting question, but I haven’t really thought it through, and it wasn’t my conversation. Still, I jumped in anyway, with a story:
Recently I was on a walk with a friend around a pond. We were talking about how our individual perspectives on our own life events change, the further out we get from them. I observed (as we sat on a bench looking across the pond at the spot where we had started) that that starting point was exactly the same starting point it had been the whole time, yet it looked very different from our present vantage point on the bench than it did if we had just turned around and looked at it after a couple of yards.
Also, both of those vantage points (a few yards ahead of the starting point, and directly across the pond from it) were different again from the way that starting point would have looked if we had turned around halfway; in fact, we might not even have been able to see the start from there because of the distance and the trees in the way.
This isn’t exactly about identity, but it does illustrate and maybe elucidate the idea that our identity grows and shifts over time, based partly on experiences, partly on how we react to them–and partly on how we react to them much later in light of other experiences.
It hadn’t occurred to me until that walk with my friend that this is kind of what we do here at the Pilgrimage, especially with Stepping Into the Storyand The Walk—we notice the spots we’ve traversed on our life’s path already, from where we are now. There are some things that are actually clearer from a greater distance than they were when we were in the midst of them. And sometimes other people’s paths crossing ours help us to make sense of the journey we’ve been on so far, too, as well as giving us hope that we’re still on it.
Speaking of those classes, Stepping Into the Story is only two weeks away. Is it time to take a look at who you are at the moment, considering where you’ve been? We’d love for you to join us.