I don’t like to talk about myself. I really, really don’t. But if there is one thing I am discovering, having been an active blogger for the last 9 years, and a writer of some kind ever since I could assemble bits of the alphabet into a cognizant word, it’s that people don’t care about writings. They don’t read a thing because of what the thing is, it is almost solely because of who wrote it, and why.
So this is me. Johnathan. Just a guy. Like you.
I am a great many things. I am a 25 year old, male in the prime of his life – or I guess it’s supposed to be my prime, or something. I am 6’2” and more pounds than I should be. (Still shooting for that under 200 mark – almost there, sort of) I am husband to a wonderful woman. I am the father to an incredible daughter. I am a writer. I am a musician. I am an actor. I am a producer. I am an artist. I could go on. Do you want me to? Odds are, you probably know most of things about my life that I could list here. I mean, you can’t throw a box of rocks at someone’s life without hitting one of the several categories I have covered, am I right? You can tell a lot about a person by the neat little boxes we compartmentalize ourselves into. It makes everything so clean and efficient.
Take me for instance, you don’t have to do a lot of research on my life to find out I was born to a Baptist preacher and his wife, grew up in the middle of the agriculturally rich plains of MN, spent my youth in private christian school and home school with my many brothers and sisters. I attended a small Bible college which went bankrupt in the middle of my sophomore year. I then went to another Bible college where I finished my degree in Bible, Speech Education, and Theatre. I got married after that. Moved to SC, where I worked on a graduate degree in Theatre from yet another Bible college. I had a kid last year, that was nuts. Still is. Now I spend much of my days talking about websites and enterprise resource planning software with executives of mid-market manufacturing companies – ya know, like ya do.
You can extrapolate a lot of information from that kind of paragraph, am I right? You might say, “I bet that guy is a conservative!” You’d probably be right. You might say, “That guy is religious.” You’d probably be right again. There’s a host of things you can know about a guy just by knowing where they come from, and what they do. But you know, as the world becomes smaller and smaller to me, I see myself shrinking right along with it. Honestly, the scope of existence is enormous, but we’ve taught ourselves to quantify it in tiny and quaint units of measurement. We judge a person by time – how old they are, how fast they are, how quickly they achieve their apparent goals. We judge a person by dollars – how much they make, how much it costs me to be with them, how much they can give me. We judge a person based on appearances, politics, actions, sex, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, association – the list is infinite.
As I look back over what I have written about myself, I realize that I am all of those things, and I am none of those things. It’s the great question, right? The existential enigma of “I?” We try to answer that simple question in the most complicated ways. We construct these movements, and these ideologies, and these philosophies to which we can desperately cling for identity. People have fought and died over their answer to that question. Rightly so. It’s a big deal. After all, if you know the answer to “Me?” than you have the golden ticket to show how you should use the precious iota of time allotted you. So what is the sum total of “Myself?”
Can I just say, I am not satisfied with these little labels we smack on each other, like price tags smacked onto a side of beef at the market? Can I say that? Can I say that I hope people know I am more than just a man? More than just a writer? More than just a Farside enthusiast? That’s like baking a cake and saying, “Would you care for a slice of flour?” What about the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and – stars above – the frosting?! You don’t call a cake by any of those things, though a cake is all of those things in one form or another. I guess that’s what I’m getting at, you know? We’re all cakes. Some are chocolate, some are vanilla. Some are angel’s food, other’s are devil’s food. And even in those categories, the ingredients aren’t always the same. Even when they are the same, they don’t all bake the same. Some are drier than others. Some rise higher. Some are burnt. Some are flat, and you eat them with delicious butter and syrup…
So where is all this coming from? I guess it’s from a desire to see people stop alienating massive swathes of humanity by stamping labels on each other. Recognize that you are a small thread in the fabric of time. Realize that we are all apart of this. We’re all trying to answer that question – ya know, what is “I?” So have a little grace as we all figure it out together. That does not mean you will agree with their answer. In fact, sometimes, you will be called to directly oppose someone because of how they answer that question. And that’s okay. There must be a way to do it in Grace.
So, I genuinely hope, my friend, that you are able to answer that question. If you have figured it out, have patience with the rest of us as we’re still working on it. By all means, tell us your answer. This isn’t a quiz or exam, after all. It certainly isn’t a contest. We’re sorta all in this together. But have a little perspective, as our cakes might still be in the mixing bowl.