Sunday, October 06, 2013

I am He as You are He as You are Me

I am a science fiction writer.  
This is how I think of myself.  My self-identification.  
I do things to support this self view.  I get up around 4 AM each morning and spend an hour and a half writing something.  The novel I’ve been working on for the past couple of years.  A short story to send out.  A blog entry.  
This is not the only identity that I have.  I am also a Production Manager.  This is how I, and others, refer to at the place I go to every week day to perform activities that can be categorized under the blanket term of “work.”  These activities include writing reports.  Evaluating the performances of the employees that report to me.  Developing new processes.  Responding to the emergencies that clients and colleagues bring to my attention.  
These two identities get along for the most part.  But sometimes they do come into conflict.  This last week, for instance, the situation with the work flow in my department necessitated that I get to the office much earlier than normal and stay much later.  
Production manager said to science fiction writer: “Hey, you take a couple of days off.  I need to use your time to take care of business.”  
Science fiction writer replied: “But I don’t want to give up my time!  In fact, I’m trying to figure out a way to take all of your time, so you can go into retirement!”  
PM: “Hey...  Be my guest.  Take all the time you want.  While you’re at it, can you tell me who’s going bring in the money to pay the electric bill, or the rent on this place, or put food in our collective stomach?  Huh?  Or are you aiming to be a starving artist?”  
SFW: “Well...”  
PM: “Yeah, thought so.  Just step aside for a moment.  I’ll let you come back and play in a couple of days.”  
I have other identities.  Some are pretty obvious.  Some are secret, just like Batman being Bruce Wayne except not nearly as exciting.  They all have their moments to come out and take the stage.  
Heterosexual Male - This one hums along in the background, usually frustrated, always there trying to tell the others what to do.
American Citizen - This is another background identity.  I don’t recall him making any sort of appearance on September 10, 2001.  The next day was a different story.  These days, with what the government in Washington is doing (or not doing), he’s too embarrassed to come out.  
Here’s a short list of other identities: 
Dodger fan.
Los Angeles Kings fan.
Lapsed Catholic.  
Damien High School Graduate.
2nd Generation American - He has something to say when he hears people arguing about immigration and he remembers stories about his grandfather working three jobs to bring his mom and her brothers and sisters to this country. 
Science Fiction Fan.
Pasadena native.
Movie buff.
Nerd, Geek, Otaku (take your pick).
Eldest Son of Ken & Merle.
Older Brother to Philip, Virginia and Kathleen.
Uncle to Melissa, Christopher, Stephen, Kenneth and Christian.  
Native Born California (for real, one of the few).
Pasadena Native.
Player-Manager of Erick’s Team in WGT Online Baseball. 
Etc., etc., etc...  There’s probably more clustered inside my head, waiting for something for them to take up to the microphone and have their say.  And there are others that are hiding in the corners, hoping they’ll not get called upon to say anything.  I don’t think I have many like that.  But you never know. 
Is this leading to anything?  Honestly, I don’t know.  This is one of those areas of consideration where I have more questions than answers.  How do I get this identity to win out over that one?  How do I make that one go away?  
I think societies have identities.  We live in “The One Superpower,” the “Greatest Country in the World,” the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.”  Those are the ones we acknowledge for ourselves.  For others we’re “The Great Satan.”  
I don’t think humanity has an identity yet.  Everyone one is “Human.”  We need identities to separate “Us” from “Them.”  Since we haven’t encountered any “Thems” yet, no verifiable proof of such an encounter anyway, we have no need for an “Us.”  
I recently asked people why they thought there was no direct evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence yet.  Given the sheer numbers of stars in the galaxy, and the fact that planets seem to be everywhere, and the amount of time that has passed since the universe came into being, you’d think SOMEONE would be out there SOMEWHERE and would have left at least a candy wrapper or something behind.  So why, I asked them, do you think it hasn’t been found?
The most common answer: “They don’t want to talk to us.”  Or, something to that effect.  
Hmm...  Maybe.  I have my own thoughts on this topic, which I’ll convey in an upcoming entry.  But I wonder how much of this same feeling is inside of the identities we choose for ourselves.  Picking something that others will wait to talk with, or at least be forced to deal with.  
Or maybe it’s like that Beetles song, “I am the Walrus.”  It’s like constellations in the sky.  We see something random and we just have to ascribe meaning to it.  
Or maybe not.  


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