Monday, November 3, 2014

About Cognizant Windy Lands: Identity is Everything

The average life expectancy at birth in Japan is 84.6 years. In Swaziland, it is 50 years. Difference is good, we should embrace it. Many people have said that, including myself. 

I stole a small yellow memo pad I had found on the old desk behind the bookcase and I was hoping no one would mind. All I wanted to do is to learn things and share them with others. I also wanted to challenge myself, cross as many borders as possible, pretend to be a fearless explorer and find satisfaction and love. I was always looking for more contentment. 

Barrow was not full of colors. I did not expect to find colorful scenery in the northernmost city in America anyway. It was not a place where newly married couples would spend their honey moon. Inspiration was strong in me. Sometimes I needed to stop and just think about that very exact moment and the reason why I came to the “top of the world” as I had read on the welcome sign in the city of Barrow. Alaska was of an astounding beauty. 

Where I was, what I was doing, what were my friends and my family possibly doing back home, what was happening in Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, and also Chile, Portugal, Estonia, Burundi and Mongolia. I was thinking about all these possible questions and I knew that the possibilities to find others were endless. But I did not want to lose my mind. It was dark. I looked up at the sky and saw green and red flames of light stretching across the horizon. I knew they were northern lights. It was then when I was involuntarily thinking about life expectancy in Japan and Swaziland, starvation in Somalia, crimes in Honduras, gender equality in God knows where, social justice, culture differences, weird traditions in Asia and sand storms, dead whales, dead bears and dead people, the Swazis and the Japanese, iPhones and wars, previous wars, current wars, art, and cliffs and fjords and romance languages and faded 15-year-old memories. 

“What could possibly define one’s identity?” I asked myself. I knew it was not the place where I was born, nor the passport I used to travel. I knew it was not the school I attended nor the things I was taught there. I knew it was not the traditional music of my hometown that I sometimes introduced to foreigners and tourists. And I also knew it was not the superego I developed, the dreams I had in mind, the goals I had set,  the aspirations that at some point I thought were the sources of my happiness. Then as I kept walking not too far from the city, I took the yellow memo pad that I had found, and started writing random things down that sometimes did not make any sense, at least for those who were not trying to get lost in Alaska. 

Many people can easily find a strong set of ideas and wise arguments on what defines their identities and what makes them unique. Those are lucky; they find answers easily and quickly. They can sit on their couches, watch some TV, drink a beer or two, or more, order food and make Hashtags like “Bring back our girls” and “ Save the whales” because it proves they are good people who care about the world. 

I thought the progress of Mankind is a long, endless and complicated process, just like defining identity, just like building it, or let me say, letting it be built. I do not want to define it by space and time and what we believe in and work on. I define it by everything else. And this is not a complicated version of an alternative definition for identity. Our definitions are different because we are different, and any other option would not be very valuable. 

It was getting colder so I rushed back to the city, but little did I know, I had already lost my way. 

Barrow, AK