I have boxes full of mementos and trinkets. Correspondence from people I haven’t seen in years, testimonials of love between my wife and I, postcards from far away places. Meaningful, some, but lots rather trivial. Trifles and treasures all jammed together. Much is a veritable time capsule of noteworthy moments, echoes from outings with old friends. And here’s my learner’s permit— look at that proud, young face and the thick hair. Wow, 16 years young. Look at this, a garish bracelet of unknown origin. Chintzy, and such gaudy faux gold luster. This isn’t mine, how did it get here? How did any of this get here? Ticket stubs, too, so many of them. The Tragically Hip at the Fillmore, great show! Such a haphazard collection of remnants from the past. Is it me? It certainly is not NOT ME, not entirely. Still, even memory has become a reverberation of experiences once bursting with vigor.

The time comes, again, to seal the boxes and put them away, let them contentedly take up dust. The question still remains, what am I?

Much is left to come. How much of my life is hopes and plans for what lies ahead? There are wishes for mountain vistas with sun on my face, the great journey to reach such reflection points, the loving thought of my daughter and what she might achieve. All who I love and even those I’ll never know, a prayer for their peace and well-being. More immediate, right now, the desire to write something clear, honest, and resonantly shattering our ill-perceived separation. Something to build towards, perhaps.

Lofty goals aside, hunger grows in my belly— not a metaphorical hunger, but a “it’s nearly lunch time and I’m ready for a sandwich” kind of hunger! That brings me to cravings, their emptiness and misleading allure. All of these hopes, wishes, and the seemingly pointless cravings, where am I in the whole tangle? I tend to only crave what I’ve felt passion for, like freshly-baked brownies, scotch, and beautiful women! Each has had their place in my life, at times, but each quickly leads this fool astray.

What of my roles, career and other obligations? Nah, let’s skip that for now.

So what else? What of God and his plan? The Bible and other holy books have much to say. A grand, unified purpose for humankind. An ultimate arrival at peace for those in the know. That’s tempting, but my core yearns for an undeniable truth and, frankly, anything written and bound can be set aside and overwhelmed by the ordinary and extraordinary comings and goings of this life. Life happening shakes us in our boots! What of those unable or unwilling to move beyond the tremendous distractions or inescapable pain and suffering of this world? The worldly red dust has gotten rather thick despite repeated attempts to brush it away.

Here I am now, still not knowing much for sure. Yet, deeper into now and more thoroughly accepting THIS, what is here? What is undeniable? The tap-tap-tap on the keyboard, a warm home on a cold day. Gratitude. All my being coming together in pregnant thought, trying to clarify “what am I?” Thought alone will not get me there, that much I can see. Despite all that is and is not me, this oft insignificantly grumbling guy, being this and that on an ever-changing path of personhood, the picture remains incomplete.

Outside, winter still. Those last leaves barely twitching in the treetops on this calm, bright day.

Regarding me, not knowing for sure IS enough for now. Looking within and without, some of this self-bigger-than-any-knowable-me is subtly reflected in my surroundings, my relationships. Even in all that I can’t see or hear, like in the big old river down in the valley, there is something of me and all that is so much more than I will ever be. I trust in the river, in its movements and guiding voice not apart from my own. We’re intricately linked, the river and I. Such a grand, satisfying thought! Yet I am also bound to starving children, war, explosive diarrhea and other ugly things. The ugly bits are not what I’d like keep in boxes, but maybe I ought to. There is much to take on, starting here!