I recall writing a poem during my early 20s that was one word per line. Each word moment in that poem was a single definition of self. I did a poetry slam and I recall vividly the voice and cadence I used for the audience. It’s the experience of performance and audience engagement that I remember. That feeling of pulling everyone listening into the power of the spoken word as I increased in volume and speed with a purposeful pause before the last revealing word. I even remember well that second pause, the expressions in the room, and the body language of the audience before the applause.
That said, I do not remember the words I used to define myself.
Alas, this poem was written by a different me. It has disappeared with the years. The self I am now can only with certainty recall two of the words and I have a vision of there being the same number as my then age. Perhaps 22. Possibly 23. As I aged, the words no longer all agreed with my sense of self, my memory let them go to make room for new ideas between then and now. This was long before one could save these types of things in the cloud.
On a related note, I am writing this in Austin on my last day of an exhausting five days at SXSW. This is also the fifth year in a row that I’ve celebrated my birthday while attending the SXSW Festival. It’s a complicated event and it parallels the idea of that poem I wrote so many years ago.
While the technology session are in full swing, they overlap with the music, film, and comedy festivals. It is a convergence of culture and technology. It has a speed and cadence that starts strong every morning and grows faster and more crowded as the day progresses. The festival has grown to also include tracks on government, sports, education, media, marketing, gaming etc. . . . and it scales in topics every year.
One of the reasons these types of events are becoming more and more popular is that all of us as individuals are not a single component of our lives. We are far more than single word stories. Humans are multidimensional. Both our interests and skills grow over time.
I’ve areas of my life where I track on a single facet of the whole festival that is me.
I’ve times in my life where I hunker down and focus deeply on one part of me.
My self-identity is a convergence. I’m fairly certain yours is as well.
Occasionally these focus areas overlap and sometimes they simply don’t. I’m seeking to understand if there is a thread that ties these quite varied selves together. I hope to delve deep on this idea and surface at 50 with a clearer more powerful vision of what this convergence means.
I have a current snapshot forming of the words I might use to define myself now. . . but I’m not there yet.
Thanks to John Joseph of the Homewood Suites Downtown Austin for this snapshot of tonight’s writing office.
363 more days to go #OTR50.