16 June 2021
Identity: Seeking Me
As I lay between cool sheets, trying to fall asleep, memories illuminate the inside of my skull. Like a strobe, they assault my consciousness…memories from childhood, from young adulthood, from last year. As they pulse, I watch and wonder, “Wherein do I exist? Which of these is me?” For Buddhism claims that none of the cells within my brain have carried over since birth; I am perpetually and constantly new. Perfectly impermanent. My mind snatches a flashing memory and inspects it: walking uphill to Stephanie _____’s building two blocks west of Parque Buen Retiro in the rain - damp concrete, granite, marble, the smell of humid Madrid streets: trash, urine, flowers. Rainwater flows and washes filth and grime down the gutter - a much-needed freshening of Madrid’s dry dirt-caked one-way street. Slop a sweeper could not erase on its own. My heels clack clack on the sidewalk... Am I in this memory? Is this memory me? Where do I exist? Do I exist at all if my memories remain unwritten? Because, as I learned, there is nothing of me that was me before; cell turnover, and all that. Today me is not 1980 me; although my memories persist…they seem permanent…but perhaps even they are transient. And but of course they are!
Shifting, shaping, shading, shaking, shuddering, skipping, slipping, skidding, sliding into new memories every single day. My memories are but a shade of me, and I am but a shade of myself. So many levels of separation from yesterday and yesterday before that…