The One Who Is Different
Sixty-four years ago this morning, a young woman in a hospital in Houston, Texas, gave birth to a very different baby boy. Yes, he had ten fingers and ten toes. He also came complete with the wiggling arms and legs, with eyes that saw and tiny ears that already knew how to hear. Even as an utterly helpless (but very cute) little creature, he survived those first intimate moments and days, then the years, and now nearly six and a half decades. For many years, I have affectionately referred to him as ‘me.’
He is quite different from everyone else I encounter. I can’t step back to get a proper perspective on him. I catch glimpses in mirrors and see reflections in the people and things around, but it’s all second-hand inference. When I look closely, I can experience his activity itself – the hands on the steering wheel and butt in the car seat hurtling down the interstate, but I can’t really be sure who the driver really is. Who’s doing all that doing?
Everyone else resides easily in the category of ‘them’. They exist ‘out there’ while he remains forever ‘in here.’ But even these safe categories shimmer and lose containment upon closer examination. All ‘those’ people, where do they exist? If they are out there, who is it that resides in my mind? I have certainly seen pictures of my younger mother and father and they appear to have an independent existence from me. But the parents that I remember and talk to my therapist about, are they really outside me?
Then there’s the small matter of the past sixty-four years—where are these alleged years now? Where is this past now if not here inside this moment’s memories? This time we call ‘before’ is knit into the fabric of my being – inextricably living here in the particular form and function of ‘me’. And I suppose the future, the days and weeks, the hopefully years and decades, must live here now too.
Mystery man. Time traveler. Resident of infinite universal space. ‘Me’ is now sixty-four years old. And I’m aware of sitting here on this august occasion with all of you ‘others’. Parents and teachers, family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, students and clients. I may not ever know who I really am, but I know for sure that you are all a part of me.
And I am grateful.