by Laric, 7/3/01
We are discovering more and more these days that we are being divided
once more into two more camps: those who knew the one who bore this
body's name, and those who do not. They are the old school, legacies
of uncertainty and pain that came from the confusions of trying
to fight through life and understand ourselves. Grown rugged and
lasting, bearing their last names like medals or scars upon their
chests, they are the old-timers.
I am the new.
I came into existence at a debatable year, but I came to my own
awakening in an internal world that had already been accustomed
to multiplicity. The courts had been established. Our career path
was steady and being maintained. The workings of ourselves were
no longer strange. When I realized that I was -I-, this was done
in a reality that had always been that way.
For me, the doors have always been open. I have always known that
I can change myself or ask those talented to do so to help me; I
have always been able to step back when I wish and pursue my own
interests. I am a child of the present, who looks to the future
because I know nothing of my past. And it does not belong to me,
nor I to it.
I have never met what we have generally assumed to be the birth
child before her now-permanent retreat back to oblivion. I don't
really feel the need to go searching for her either. It is strange
though, to know that you do not know a person who means so much
to the older school and nothing at all to yours. I have eavesdropped
on other people's memories--but we all know what that's like, don't
we? For many of us, it is a sort of distance presented during the
viewing, a case of watching things upon a screen and politely nodding
at the expressed emotions with no sense of connection for ourselves
personally. At times, I stop and overhear another person thinking
back in bittersweet privacies about this person who they once knew
so intimately. And who is a part of my origins, in some manner,
that I know only as a word upon the page.
The same goes for memory. There is an entire life behind us that
I could dip into at any time and experience vicariously, doubtless
digging up memories that should stay buried as I do so. Yet I choose
not to. True, it becomes awkward when we New Children must fill
out forms and have not the slightest clue of our histories, counting
down each time on our fingers to discern when we graduated which
school when or had which operation where. On the forms, the numbers
change every single time.
We are grandchildren of the birth person now; we are not the generation
who knew her, but take our lives from the present rather than being
shaped by traumas of the past. We have reached a branching point
where we are not touched by the nostalgia for someone who is no
longer with us--the old school stops for rests in memory at times,
but we have only what we have built for ourselves in the experience
of this world.
Like the generational gap, we of the new school have little in
common with the old.
Our changes, like those of singlets, are the same; we move through
the years and evolve to fit our lives. That which we were when younger
is not what we are now, nor will it be what we will be later. Yet
this shift is on a highly accelerated schedule. Because we are capable
of change of the perceived group-version of ourselves at such a
direct level, we change more as we wish to than being forced into
it by time itself. And, while time and circumstances themselves
are what cause us to react, we can view this shift more clearly
than if we were standing at ground zero with a fixed sense of perspective.
We are hyper-responsive to the environment; we are tailored to fit
into a digitized world where information flows as fast as your connection
to it can manage.
Does the tradeoff come now? We have compared ourselves on occasion
to computers which have more RAM than ROM; in order to continually
remake ourselves as we do, we must sacrifice some of the permanence
of time and memory. That which begins anew does so without being
locked into a past. That is its freedom and its strength.
As a whole, we are notoriously restless when we are in the same
social circle for periods of time spanning, on average, a year.
We are used to losing groups of friends and to moving; apart from
this, external people also build up an idea of the group overall,
and we must fit into it. This limits the activities of ourselves,
and causes us to often wish to start over again, without dragging
around what others might have done and to smile with a blank nod
while our friends recount old times that we have utterly no personal
memory of without borrowing one.
Will there be traces of me left in the future for others of us
to look back upon, or will I have allowed Change within myself to
progress with the times? We know identity as our selves; we know
it as well, when a great shift inside a person occurs to no longer
connect them to themselves, that they are possibly a separate person
from that again while their own identity fades away. Is there a
difference between the growth of a person and the loss of whatever
unique characteristics they had to keep them yoked to their origins--whatever
sense of self that they no longer retain, but have a new
one to replace it with and cannot connect with the old? But is it
inevitable? Is it a point of contention? Or shall some of us fade
into sleep along the way while others become their own children,
their own revised and updated versions that may become completely
and utterly different from what they used to be?
Some of us will wake again, and some of us will remain sleeping.
Some of us will dissolve into dreams, with their traits and characteristics
resurfacing unexpectedly, like the colors of a pair of mismatched
eyes in new faces. Some of us will ride the shift of the years,
becoming our own legacies. And becoming ourselves all over again.