Sunday, November 7, 2010

Existential Meanderings.

I just got back from visiting my great-grandfather's grave at the Masonic Cemetery in Springfield. He died in 1989 and, although I was named after him (him - Richard Wilson, me - Richard Wilson Stage), that was the first time I had been there. I have good memories of him. There was a picture, taken when I was 8 or so, of the two of us, me in pajamas, both of us grinning like idiots.

Apart from the memories of childhood, good and otherwise, I started thinking. I remember him, but I can't say I really knew him. Grampa Wilson was born in 1899. He would have been 18 when the US joined WW 1. Did he serve? How did he get through the Great Depression? Who was he?

Then I followed that question to it's logical conclusion.

Who am I?

I am a husband to the most wonderful woman I have met. I am father to two amazing kids. But is that who I am? Do those moments in my life (marriage, births) define me? People have said that who we are is the sum of our experiences, but what if the math doesn't add up? What if I forgot to carry the one? Perhaps I should subtract π. Maybe I should subtract π a couple times.

I know almost everyone has had an existential quandary at some point in their lives, and mine isn't really any different. But if we are all indeed the sum of our experiences, how can we be sure the math adds up?