Unpublished Work © 2011 Cristina Carlino
who do you think you are? that may sound like an abstract philosophy question. if we even stop to ask it. who’s got the time? for me i couldn’t stop to ask the question until the question stopped me and brought me to my hands and knees. that was the day i resigned from philosophy and headed out into the world as a giant question mark? just Cristina? my identity was swiped out from underneath me. there was no way i could prepare for how lost this would feel. it can happen to anybody in an instant. we hear it on TV. i have for decades. remember karl malden? “don’t leave home without it.” because if you do, nobody will know who you are.
it’s not our fault. it’s how we live. we learn first from our tiniest days we are our name. next we are somebody’s sister or brother or girlfriend, student. we are declaring we want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a ________fill in the blank when we grow up so. (i never once thought i’d be an executive when i grew up. and neither did anybody else.) but still one day “it happens.” we find something we do. we are good. we have proven we deserve to be here. so we pledge allegiance to not being our self but being that something else first.
today i read that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in america. but i have discovered it doesn’t just take a thief to rob me of who i think i am. i can do that just fine by myself. everyday without even knowing it. it’s been decades in the making. even with security codes and special “pins.” coming to terms with that reality took me into its own abyss because suddenly if i wasn’t creating for philosophy who was i? if i wasn’t taking care of everything around me and then some who was i? if i wasn’t trying to fix broken people and business models, who was i?
the truth was i didn’t have the slightest idea. that is how disconnected i had become from my soul from a life defined by a to do list for others.
so i’m wondering, how do you identify yourself today? how do we walk that fine line between both needing identity to find place in the world and knowing our genuine identity so we find true peace in our world?
are you an executive? an artist?
are you a mother? a wife? your mother’s daughter?
are you your ancestry?
are you a Californian? or a New Yorker or a resident of the state or planet you live on?
that question next took me on a journey from the lyrics of “hands and knees” to facing off with what i could only describe as my” beautiful beast.” never in my life had i taken a mystical journey quite like it and when the light finally came at the end of it, i didn’t feel peace i had become peace. i didn’t feel love, i was love. i didn’t feel joy, i was joy. my coming of age had arrived.
so who do you think you are?
my guess is a person who is very, very loved and may not even know it or believe it.