Opinion: Documented life


So-called self-help gurus have asked us if we really know ourselves since the “me” generation. One can assume the question is more existential than tangible. With the exception of infirmity or infancy, we recognize enough about ourselves to provide our given name, city of domicile and perhaps a few important numbers – namely Social Security and birthdate. From the youngest age, we humans find it important to label ourselves (or at least to recognize those labels applied to us). 

Eventually, some of us resist. We don’t like our names. We don’t like our families. We don’t like our addresses. Whatever the genesis, we march out into the world hopeful to create a new identity unmarked by that provided at baptism or afforded by our progenitors. From the start, we are branded with an official birth certificate. We believe its veracity because we have no way of personally knowing if it is accurate or not. Besides, could we “be” without it? And as we age, it becomes more important, at least to get along in our social order, to be one, consistent person. At 16, we get a state-issued driver’s license. By adulthood, we have mortgages, wills and all sorts of legal documentation. But what if we lose it? How do we “prove” our identity? Could we? Are we our own construction or God’s — a simple accumulation of settled assumptions or a bureaucrat-stamped license to exist?


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