As a child I was labeled outgoing, gregarious, talkative as all hell. But I was also the kid in his room, music on, sitting for hours with pen and paper, drawing pad and crayon, a book or stack of comic books, staring at the world through my window. Labeled a talker, I was more and less than that.
This morning I dream I sit on a porch looking at the ocean. I write some and read. I listen to music. There is no one around and I have nothing more to do in this day than to make another cup of coffee and keep careful watch as the sun arcs over the sky and reflects up off the water. I have a day alone.
As I've worked toward redefining myself in a post-midlife way, I've looked to re-label myself. Am I the writer, teacher, the co-leader of a writing project, or something else? Do I have enough passion for writing to carry me? Am I called to work with kids? Should I go into technology?
As a child these decisions were made for me. Parents, teachers, and friends told me who they knew me to be.
I was about to say, I took those labels to heart, but no. I couldn't take them to heart because my head and heart were telling me something different about myself. I doubted my ability and right to make decisions about myself, so I struggled to resolve the conflict. Rather than accept that I was neither and both, less and more, I felt guilty that I was lost and not measuring up to who I was supposed to be.
At forty, this exploded in a typical midlife crisis except I couldn't afford a sports car. Now, heading toward fifty, I try to see anew, to reconcile the disparate ideas I have had and been given about myself.
I could use a solitary porch.
Lacking that, I filling a screen with words. Does this make me a writer? Maybe. I have a job teaching kids. Does this mean I'm a teacher? Sometimes. I can keep asking these things, but I'm bored with these questions.
I have some skill at writing, teaching, working with kids, and technology. Sitting on this imagined porch on the imagined island watching an fantasy sun in a dream-blue sky, I know I'm not any of these things. I'm me, Brian G. Fay, whoever the hell that is. A solitary man writing an essay who will soon go upstairs and join the family. I'm less and more, both and neither, becoming and become, a man moving forward by writing on.