Who is this person that I write about today? Is he the culmination of all that he does or does not do? Is he a sum total of experience, of joy and sorrow, of years past and years yet to be lived? Is he indeed…a he, or is the man a shadow of all things hidden and masked each day by the new self that emerges from sleep and shows itself in the various forms that are the make up of his own unique self portrait.
The make up of a persona is by definition:
1. A person.
2. Personae, the characters in a play, novel, etc.
3. The narrator of or a character in a literary work, sometimes defined with the author.
4. (In the psychology of C.G. Jung) the mask of façade presented to satisfy the demands of the situation or the environment and not representing the inner personality of the individual; the public personality (contrasted with anima).
5. A person’s perceived or evident personality, as that of a well-known official, actor, or celebrity; personal image; public role.
persona. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved March 20, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/persona
If indeed the self portrait of a person is all of this and more or less his environmental makeup then what am I at this very moment?
Please allow me to try and paint for you a mental picture of the person of William Joseph George-Stilianessis. In this time I am a student as well as a teacher. I am a man of forty-seven years. I am a single father to five children, three daughter and two sons. I am a son to a mother whom I know and a father I have never met. I am a grandson to deceased grandparents. I am a brother, sandwiched somewhere in a pack of eight children: three sisters, two older and unknown, one younger who has not spoken to me in eight years, four brothers all younger and on their own. I am nephew to many aunts and uncles, one of which was more like my dad than I could have ever hoped for. I am a Christian, as well as a minister in that faith. I am a faithful friend to some, and good man to those that know me well and an honest person to those that are aware of my heart.
I have loved without exception and without condition during my life. I have in contrast been harsh with a few in times of deep sorrow. I have been a giver and yes even a taker. I have worn many hats and in doing so, many masks, some literal, some more figurative.
Depending on the time that I am asked, or the surroundings of the moment I might answer if you asked me, “who are you?” I am a firefighter. I am an Emergency Medical Technician. I am a wonderful cook and a thoughtful presenter of meals. I am careful to listen and respond. I am a trusted ear to share your concerns with. I am a compassionate heart that loves deeply. I am a fighter when there is just cause. I stand ready to defend the weak and helpless. I am a nurturing soul that cares for the youth entrusted to me in my work. I am a fun guy, a playful sort that would rather fly a kite when the wind is right and warm. I am a man of secrets and a man that can keep a secret. I am a reader and a writer, a poet, a singer (in the shower), a playwright and a performer. I am a little overweight, with slightly thinning hair and bright blue eyes. I am a damn good kisser. I am an excellent driver. I am a person that can sleep almost anywhere.
But really who am I? Is the person that you see the same man that sees himself shaving in the mirror each morning? And when I do look, really look, at the man in the mirror; is that what you perceive as William? Sometimes I actually try to look deeply at that reflection. To notice the lines around my eyes and each hair on my face and I do ask myself, “who are you, William? Why are you here, today? What difference will it make if anyone sees you in the next twenty-four hours?” Occasionally I can get lost in that image staring back at me, the shell of the person who is me. And am I really that shell or am I something else that goes much deeper. A more ethereal being that is just visiting in this carbon based cabinet called the human body.
I have taken the time in these past few weeks to go over a long list of what I represent, who I am and what that might look like to the world. I have tried to compare what I feel is the true self portrait of me with what I believe and with what is expected of me in this place we collectively call society. There are the dark places in my mind where I may portray many different things that would dare never escape into the light of day. The secret fantasies of power or representations of greed and lust that could not, should not, ever surface or show. Is that the real me or am I just the mild mannered person who sits next to you on the train, eagerly reading an exciting novel and in doing so is transported into the action as if it were exploding all around me? Yet when you look what you see is only a man in faded blue jeans and an old Boston Red Socks tee-shirt quietly reading. As I have pondered over this question I have had to ask, is seeing believing or is the believing in the seeing? What truly is real and what is merely a mask that hides this man?
In many ways somewhere deep inside of this casing, is that answer. Yet, your answer and mine will never be the same and that is the beauty of the issue, the unique nature of self that transcends all boundary and form. The absolute being that is created moment by moment, always the same and never the same, fluid and secure in the self that is.