Who Are You?
“Who. Are. You?” demanded the Caterpillar.
“Well, I… I hardly know sir. I’ve changed so many times since this morning, you see.”
“I do not see. Explain yourself.”
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I’m not myself, you know.”
“I do knot know.”
“Well, I can’t put it any more clearly, for it isn’t clear to me.”
“You. Who are you?”
~ Walt Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland”, 1951
While I was manic, I was obsessed with the question “who are you?”
(Fun fact: mania breeds all sorts of interesting obsessions.)
I asked it of everyone. I wrote it in riddles. It ran circles in my mind.
I had the idea that if I asked this question sincerely, that if someone was really able to wonder at the implications of this riddle, we would unlock some vital information about their truest nature.
Who are you?
We can answer this question in so many ways, and we can just as quickly rule each answer out.
I am Madison. Madison Marie Kolla.
But what is in a name, really?
I am an acupuncturist, a yogi.
But these are both things that you do, and you’ve gone through periods of doing neither.
Am I a Taurus, with a Capricorn Rising and a Moon in Aquarius? Am I a Fire Rabbit?
Are you your body? Are you your mind?
(This last question is especially troubling if you’ve been know to lose yours.)
Attributes we might use to describe ourselves are temporary, shifting things.
And once we’ve explored both ends of the spectrum, we discover that we contain multitudes.
I have been so many variations of this one self, and that is only during my lifetime of 30 years.
Imagine how many more ‘me’s I will meet if I happen to live another 50 years?
So maybe, in asking “who are you?”, we learn that this question cannot really be answered in a satisfactory way. Like a Japanese koan, the very contemplation of the riddle reminds us to rest in a state of unknowing, of impermanence, of groundlessness. The questions that we struggle to answer remind us of the infinite things we can never really know. We find that sometimes, the truth is beyond words.
Who are you?
It seemed to me at the time, that this question could serve as a reminder.
Who am I? Who am I right now? In this very moment?
What is real? What is true?
It is a gentle nudge towards connecting with our deepest self.
It is an initiation.
The beginning of a different way of experiencing the world.
Surrendering the search for answers, opening to the very act of questioning.
Opening to wonder.