The question of "Who are you?" is often answered in the same manner in which we respond to the question "How are you?" Here, instead of the programmed responses of "Fine", "good", or "alright", we typically respond by giving our name. In professional work related settings; name, vocation, and location are common responses.
In February of 2004, a professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, asked a group of doctoral students, of which I was one, to introduce ourselves. One by one, as he went around the room, students would reply like programmed drones. The following fabricated remark was typical: "I'm Mary Jane from Bushwack Mountain, Kansas, and I am the principal of Bushwack Elementary School." Sitting on the opposite side of the room from where this chorus of information began placed me in the last group to speak out. I remember clearly what I said. "I'm an individual spirit seeking enlightenment..."
Giving my name tells the recipient nothing about my spirit, thinking, or how I go about being human. Likewise, telling people where I'm from or what I do for a living enlightens them little about the depths of my soul or methods of reasoning. To appease the masses, I will share with you my automatic response. Afterwards, I will give you a glimpse into my heart. I am Dr. Jonathan T. Jefferson a school administrator in New York. I once left my career to manage a Caribbean country retreat built and owned by a friend. My responsibilities during this life transition afforded me the time to pursue creative endeavors such as writing, photography, and traveling.
Hidden behind my couched "Tell me about you" answer belies the true turmoil of my growing spirit. Something in my consciousness broke from the norm during my teen years. No, I was not a rebellious teenager; my parents gave me and my siblings plenty of rope. I did not act out in school to a fault, dye my hair, smoke, use drugs, or get tattoos to express my individuality. Those tried and all too familiar methods of rebellion only confirmed a common thread in the maturation process. The thread suggests a need to display to the world that you are an individual with a free will. However, my separation from what was deemed normal was internal and unseen.
I believe we are spirits having a human experience. That earth-born human vessel ties us to an incredibly strong animal instinct. Preservation of self and preservation of the species is the strongest of all urges; therefore, seek survival by any means necessary, and seek sexual gratification above all else. This is where I differ.
Being spiritual, I hold that our true selves, spirits, are indestructible and the need for self preservation is therefore muted. This is why I feel trapped by the human experience. My soul wants to travel/commune, create, learn, and grow. Instead, I am tied to the classroom of life like everyone else, and overcoming the unseen rope that binds me is proving to be the toughest challenge of all.