Who am I?
I blogged a little while ago about finding ghosts of my past self in Hatton Garden (not hard, they were in the pub where I left them).
Something else has been going on, too, about my whole identity and who I am, and what I do. The first person, by the way, to tell me that my identity is in being a loved and chosen child of God, is in line for a hard stare. That isn’t helpful – because it only asks the question afresh.
I was described as an ex-law librarian recently… I suppose I am… am I an ex-librarian? I don’t think so – I think being a librarian is a choice for life – but in moving away from the City law firms, I’ve left behind a few things I had come to take for granted. At first I thought this was only about external appearances, but now I am not so sure.
I don’t wear the same clothes to work any longer. I still have the dresses and jackets and smart flat shoes, because I may well make site visits to clients in the future. But it’s not core. So what do I wear when I no longer have that ‘uniform’? When I can actually make choices about what I look like, no longer an identikit businesslike person – it feels odd…
I’ve almost forgotten how much Iiked wearing boots and skirts. Or boots generally. When your weekday wardrobe is so smart, weekends become jeans-time. So I have nothing much in between, really. People in church have really only seen me once or twice in a skirt- in four years. Do I need to dress differently? I am not sure. But something is changing around the edges.
At home, I would have clung on to things that define where I am and who I am. Again, now, I am not so sure where, or who I am – so what are the important things? I’m not intending to part with the run of Chalet School books; but what about the back issues of BIALL or SLA journals? Continuing the clothes theme – what about all those things I loved, but don’t quite fit?
I have been so afraid of over-consuming, and of having no money to replace things in future, that I have perhaps forgotten how to pass things on or reuse them. Or frankly just be able to recycle or throw away. I’m hoarding ‘just in case,’ or ‘for memories,’ or ‘because this has been important.’
It doesn’t help that a lot of things are needed – ironing board, sewing kit, hammer, saucepans – just some of the things I’ve never quite found a home for in the flat but that help life run properly. They get in the way, clutter up, making it hard to find things in a hurry, falling on my head…that sort of thing. I have someone coming in on Saturday to help me with this – I fully anticipate it making me feel horrendous. But it is probably necessary…I have lost the ability to see the wood for the trees.
I suppose I am just uneasy at the moment…waiting for criticism of things I have done…answers to questions I can’t look up in the back of the book…wondering what the near future will hold. Sand has shifted since I moved jobs. I’ve looked again at ideas, routines, meals even – that were helpful to me in previous lives and am wondering why I had forgotten them. In turn, I wonder what is important now that I will forget in the future – and that makes this moment feel very transitory.
And that sends me straight back to one of my favourite prayers.
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Changes, and chances.