If You Are What You Do, Then You Don’t, Then You Aren’t

Summer of 1991 was a memorable for a great many reasons reasons.

That year that Queen released the song “These are the Days of Our Lives”.  I remember exactly which street I was driving on, what radio station I was listening to and all the circumstances around that weekend.  It was a special song at a transitional time in my life.   I carry that song and the feelings associated with that first musical experience to this day.

Another thing that I carry from that summer is a line from a Robert Subby book that I was reading about 5am one Saturday morning.  The line went,

“If you are what you do, then you don’t, then you aren’t.”

I highlighted the words in blue and I had to reread them several times before I really got it.

Subby was speaking to our tendency to define ourselves in terms of one thing.  For me, I was about my job.  For others it was about being someone’s parent or someone’s significant other.  For some it’s about defining themselves as that thing they want to be.

Those definitions are ephemeral.  I can lose my job, my child can move away, my significant other can die… then what am I?  Who am I when that which I use to define myself ceases?

So 20+ years later I find myself ( in alphabetical order) as an asthmatic, a  bad-joke maker, a blogger, a brother, a Business Development guy, a California resident, Catholic, a chemist, a Chopin listener, a cousin, a  fan of old country music, a deadhead, a diet coke drinker, a dog lover,  an early riser, an English major,  father, a guitar player,  half Colombian, half-Irish a half-marathoner, a hockey fan, an eater of  frozen chocolate cake, a husband, an INFP,  a kale eater, a 30 year wearer of K-Swiss tennis shoes, a lacrosse junkie, a motorcycle rider, an MBA,  New Yorker, a peludo, a pelado, a photograph taker, a poor proof-reader,  a purple wearer, a recovering from Las Vegan, a rock climber, a runner, a son, a tennis player, a traveler, a twenty-four year employee, an uncle, a Whittier College Poet, Dr. Who and Yankees fan, and probably a few other things that I will remember once I push PUBLISH.   None of these things define me, but  in aggregate, perhaps you start to get a sense.

I feel the need to put some kind of picture of myself in this blog.  Some type of self-image which represents all these pieces.  These pieces have accumulated over 47 years.   They could be considered fragments, broken pieces that fit together with some gaps.   Alternatively they could be a set of appreciations developed over the first half of my life.  Instead of  a picture of myself, I will leave you with a video of Freddie Mercury.

I always knew that Freddy Mercury was a bit off-center, but I never really bothered to learn about him.  I didn’t know he was gay nor did I care.   I know he made some great music during the time we shared on this planet.  He left me with songs that are strongly associated with more than a few times and places.  He was a part of my life.  He is gone but not forgotten.

So, how do you define yourself?  Is it in terms of one thing or many?   Is it in terms of things you do, you have or you want to be?

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If You Are What You Do, Then You Don’t, Then You Aren’t

2 thoughts on “If You Are What You Do, Then You Don’t, Then You Aren’t

  1. Interesting blog, as always. How do I define myself? As a woman who has lived a long and interesting life and the person I am is the result of that.

    This is my haiku written when Freddie was still with us:
    Strutting on the stage/ Beauty,his magnetic force/ Voice both strong and triste/Love that calls to Jack and Jill/That’s Freddie’s kind of magic.

  2. Considering that we both blogged yesterday about the fact that we eat frozen cake, I think that (and your love of beer/running) is all I need to know to understand that we Are On The Same Page. This was truly a great post!

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