Sunday, November 19, 2006

Inventing One's Self

I was reading this quote by poet Philip Levine, "I have a sense that many Americans, especially those like me with European or foreign parents, feel they have to invent their families just as they have to invent themselves," when I realized how much I identify with this.

Growing up I had an overwhelming awareness, almost haunting, that there was a mammoth void in my life. That void was not only the absence of a father but perhaps more dramatically the absence of any knowledge of that whole paternal lineage. It is as though my father were a test tube as was his parents and theirs and so on. I think the fact that this whole genetic side was scrubbed from any existence was the most disturbing aspect. It in fact tended to support the feeling that I was significantly different from others. A difference that as a child was not framed in the context of something special, but rather something unusual, something defective, something amiss.

I have to admit as I grew older it was necessary to keep reinventing myself as I struggled to figure out who I was. To fill in the holes. This struggle to reinvent myself continues to a lesser degree today. I have to credit poetry to some degree for allowing me to explore attitudes, fears and expectations in ways I would not have before. It is through such creativity that the void is being filled. Mostly now, I am working on pot holes.
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