A story of mythical proportions.
Throughout history the identity thief has taken on many different guises to rob people of their identity: disease, slavery, doubt, control – whatever works the thief uses.
The person who begins the journey to take their identity back, to grow it and make a contribution, will cross several thresholds guarded by the thief’s minions. The first is Judgement: “Who are you to think you can set out to know, own, and express yourself?”
Many do not make is past this guardian, settling instead for what they have so far known and fitting in. For those who do overcome there is another guardian to encounter: Cynicism. Cynicism defies us: “You struggle to be open and connect, you do not, can not, and will not care for others or your world, or even embrace the person you can be.”
This need to be open and to connect can be too high a price to pay; it feels more like losing the critical self than finding it. Yet, some triumph and face the final guardian: Fear. Fear knows it holds the greatest obstacle to the regaining of our identity: “It is time to let go of what was to take hold of the new, not only with your mind, not only with your heart, but with your will too; you have no idea what lays before you and yet you must let go.”
A few make it past all these guardians, into the Hall of the Identity Thief, to find there is only a mirror standing in the centre of the great space. This single object draws you in and you look upon a face you hardly recognise.
It comes to you, the face and life reflected back is your own, changed by the overcoming of judgement, cynicism, and fear.* You also come to the realisation, you are the identity thief, and, whilst other people and circumstances have aided and abetted, you have given them sway.
Identity is important because it is how we explore being Human.
(I wondered about writing a second blog at this point but if you can manage a few more lines, please read on.)
Identity is also important because it is a producer of ideas.**
We live in an information-saturated world, and information is what we work with to produce ideas. Ideas will become increasingly important and valuable to control for those whose identities are more focused on themselves than others, who have not descended into the lair of the identity thief.
Those who have made the journey understand ideas are best shared allowing them to become better.^
Open ideas are important for Humans and our world because they provide us with options in a universe which is random and sometimes chaotic.
My friend Diallo said something which has remained with me: ‘We are to be, not to be like.’
I like this very much, the idea we are to be true to ourselves and not a copy of anyone else is a good final word.
‘We are to be, not to be like.’
(*Judgement, Cynicism, and Fear are three voices identified by Otto Scharmer for preventing us opening our minds, our hearts, and our wills. I thought these three offered themselves as mythical guardians of thresholds to be overcome by the hero who must enter an unfamiliar and transformative space before she can return with the prize or boon to make a difference in their world – the classic mythological story. What she comes to realise is, the world has changed forever. Also, I began reading a retelling of the legend of Atlas in Weight by Jeanette Winterson, in the introduction of which Winterson describes herself as someone who ‘believes in the power of story telling for its mythic, and not explanatory qualities, and who believes that language is much more than information.’)
(**There are all kinds of ideas: good, bad, and ugly.)
(^A person’s response to your idea will give away whether they wish to control it or build on it; if they are willing to play the “Yes and” game, you have your answer.)
(Cartoon: This came out of a conversation with a friend in which we were exploring where validation for the things we do comes from. First validation comes from within, from knowing what we are doing is good and valuable and we’re doing it well; second validation comes from without, from others, providing us with another perspective – this is healthy. When we make the validation from without first and our own, second, we are moving into ill-health.)