Friday, October 22, 2010

Identity Crisis 104: What Next?

What happens when an identity crisis is over? What's the aftermath? What's the plan?

You've come to the right place if you're looking for those answers. I've had an identity crisis every couple of years for my entire post-adolescent life. I've had several quarter-life crises, crises of conscience, crises of career, creative crises, relationship crises... the truth is, each of those is a type of identity crisis.

I was recently discussing the difference between "meaning" and "being" with someone who believed one could play with meaning and not with being. To someone like me, who does not believe in meaning per se, to play with meaning is a sort of masturbatory exercise. All meaning is fiction, so why pretend it is going to affect you? (I'm reminded of my college Shakespeare professor, who believed in objective Shakespeare of all things! The things people tell themselves. Shameful.) If you want to play with meaning, do so as a creator, not as a psychologist or spiritualist. Explore the nooks and crannies of your mind, your beliefs, your biases, and make them into art or writing. But don't treat them as some kind of sacred truth.

Playing with being, however, is another matter. I suppose it doesn't come naturally to the native SoCalian, who (and I speak in generalities) has never suffered any literal or figurative winter, who has lived a life of ease and plenty, who has never considered his life and property anything but a gods-given right. To those of us who, for whatever reason, are closer to the source of being--usually because we have experienced what my stalker referred to as The Vicissitudes--understand that things like sunshine, ease, plenty, property, and even life are all doled out by pure chance, by random events; that imagining we control anything other than our own reactions is not just idiotic but dangerous.

So to play with being is a much more extreme sport. Meaning is just something to make up as you go along; anyone can do it--just look at the Teabagger movement. Being is a state, and to recognize it as a state of flux can be terrifying. It can also be exhilarating. To play with who you are, what you are, is to risk losing your sense of self completely. Once that happens, meaning becomes impossible to assign, to defend, to argue.

*Sigh.* I'm not explaining it well. There are languages out there whose jargon would serve much more efficiently. But I don't know those languages and have to rely on my crude tongue and my base, biased observations.

Many people have such realizations when they are six feet under an acid trip or six hundred years into a life of silent meditation. Others, like me, start young, through a combination of fucked-up experiences and a modicum of undeveloped intelligence. The only drawback to starting so young is feeling so old so fast; so tired. I suppose the mistake in my expectation is that these crises will one day subside for good, leaving me with a sense of security, that bland thing which has seemingly never existed in my world.

And is a sense of security a sense of self? Should I use this present identity crisis to attempt to cement myself into some rigid construction of Me-ness? Gods, no. I couldn't bear it. I admit, when there is so much as the threat of security in my life, I start to get bored. I seek change for change's sake. Or could I bear it? Is it the very thing I need most? Or is it the worst possible option? Or am I just beating another dead cliche?

Hm. No. I lied to you earlier. I'm not the person to come to for answers about being. I am probably not even the person to come to with questions. But if you need your meaning edited, or rewritten entirely, I'm great at that. As long as you don't take it seriously.