Names, stories construct our sense of self

By Paul Evans
Posted 7/11/19

In the beginning of creation, when humans partook from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of choosing to eat from the Tree of Life, that’s where this whole idea of self originated. …

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Names, stories construct our sense of self

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In the beginning of creation, when humans partook from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of choosing to eat from the Tree of Life, that’s where this whole idea of self originated.

There is not really a “me” as in there isn’t really a “Robert Paul Evans” and there really isn’t a “you” (insert name). These are merely identities we were given at or around the time of our births. Just for fun, I recently did a Google search of my name and found many Robert Evanses, a few Robert Paul Evanses and a couple of different variations of names using Paul and Robert Evans together.

Names are merely ways to identify or label ourselves. Back to identities — when we are born, our parent(s) or guardians bestowed us with names, familial or otherwise. We are then told who family members are, where we were born, where we live and so on. As we grow and start being able to listen to these stories, we start buying into them as if they were real. Then we begin to create our own identities and start believing them, as if they are nonfiction, meaning we believe them to be true.

After a while, we grow up, graduate high school, attend college, join the military or marry. We then start the next chapter in our lives believing in our stories even more. We associate with the colleges we attend, we associate with being in the military, if that’s your story, or we associate with being a husband or wife to our spouses, continuing to build or write our stories.

As we grow in our stories, we identify with them even so far as to lose who we really are because we get so wrapped up in them. Our family members have their own stories and if we don’t live up to them, such as the ones our parents want us to live out in our lives, then we become disappointments to them. For instance, if your parents want you to become a professional, such as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, and so on, but you really want to be a musician. If you choose the profession you want for yourself, this might disappoint your parents and family.

What I am alluding to is simply this: These are just stories — there’s that word again — and identities we or our parents create for us. If we don’t live up to them, then we start to take things personally, maybe we start engaging in harmful practices such as taking out our disappointments on our loved ones, including ourselves, through drug use, alcohol abuse and domestic violence because we don’t think we are good enough.

We — me and you — are not our stories, we are not our identities, we are not even human. The word human, like our identities, is a word given to us to differentiate us from the rest of the different species that inhabit our planet. Once we strip away our identities, we are simply expressions of the universe in a vehicle called the human body walking a path designed to navigate the physical world.

I’m not saying I’m not my parents’ son or my children’s father, nor am I not saying my name isn’t Robert Paul Evans. I’m not saying you aren’t whoever you are or your story is. What I am saying is we should not identify with these things. They are just our stories. If you identify with them, you’re going the wrong way.

The only way we can truly understand who we really are is to go inward into our body, our mind, and lose ourselves and our egos because not doing so is egotism. Looking inward and living outward is the way to go.

All living things in our universe are one, we are all connected and no one thing is more important than the others.

Paul Evans is a resident of Wilson County.