We know that labels are for jars, and we know that we are not jars. And yet, it is an easy trap, boxing ourselves into characters or avatars, for brevity’s sake, of course. We have 140 characters, 5 minutes in the elevator, 10 minutes at a dinner party to explain ourselves, to introduce the passion that beats within our soul. To announce to the world, or whoever is in front of us, yes, yes, this is who I am. This is how I will define myself.
And still, my favorite people in life are the ones that package an element of surprise. Surely the entertainment attorney with the fast-paced lifestyle and the $350K paychecks and the house in Cabo – surely she doesn’t knit on the airplane? Surely she doesn’t call her aging grandmother every Saturday at 4, and surely she doesn’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches whilst sitting cross-legged on her kitchen counter, crumbs spilling onto her silk pajamas?
And yet, surely she does. Surely we all do, acting in ways that seem unfit for our characters. We are this and that, half something and half something else entirely, and I’ve often thought about the repercussions of defining ourselves so flippantly online. Writer, mama, scrambled egg-maker is what currently sits atop my Instagram profile, like a pitchy mockingbird resting on my shoulder. I know as well as you do that we are more.
I believe words hold power, and that we’ll never get our explanations 100% right, even if we study the English language for decades. I feel as if I’m always chasing words, trying to pin down accurate descriptions like swirling leaves on a blistering fall day, and still, it’s a chase I love. Because once collected, once stuffed into my left coat pocket, these leaves – these words – they transform. They build. They create.
They fall short.
And so, the new goal is this: I am what I am. I am what I have done in the past, and what I will do today, and what I plan to do tomorrow. I am a combination of my contradictory thoughts, my elemental surprises, my deepest character flaws.
After all, it is with the same hands that I scramble eggs, and braid hair, and type on keyboards. It is with the same mind that I dream of hiking and yurt-living, but with clean sheets and a fully stocked refrigerator, please. And it is with the same heart that I seek to live a life filled with love for my neighbor, and yet still find myself the passive aggressive toe-tapper at the local post office.
And it is with the same eyes that I look at your avatar and squint, knowing there, too, is much, much more.