Who Am I and Who Are You?

 

If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you! —Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk

The first time I read this quotation, my eyes crossed! In fact, I read it a couple of times to understand what the good rabbi was trying to say. (I must assume that he wrote it with some amusement.)

But the actual meaning that I deduce from his words is powerful and a reminder that no matter how we try to isolate ourselves and our connection with others, deep or superficial, long-term or recent, they touch our hearts, minds, and souls in a way that is impossible to measure.

My close friends remind me ongoingly what it means to be a caring person. Even though I can often be self-absorbed, they are role models for opening up to others who are in need or require a sympathetic ear. The influence of these friends has made me a better person, and made my life richer as a result.

And, for instance, I think of the beautiful, young black woman who staffs the desk at our gym; she brightens my day. She always greets me warmly, and is so encouraging as I get myself back into shape. Although I am already self-motivated, her enthusiasm and joy in seeing me working hard touches my heart, and I always look forward to seeing her smiling face.

So indeed, I am I, and she is she, but in some indescribable way, we have melded who we are into a connection that for us, is unique and healing.

[photo from unsplash.com]

Published in Group Writing
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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I am what I am. – Popeye

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I am what I am. – Popeye

    No man is an island.

    — John Donne

    Except maybe Popeye.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Double post

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    This post makes me smile.

    Susan Quinn: The first time I read this quotation, my eyes crossed! In fact, I read it a couple of times to understand what the good rabbi was trying to say. (I must assume that he wrote it with some amusement.)

    It does seem that way.  And it makes me think that the good rabbi (who I see lived a couple hundred years ago, so not possible) might have enjoyed Raymond Smullyan’s ‘knights and knaves’  puzzles (following excerpt is a paraphrase of one them, from Psychology Today:

    The people of a certain town belong to one of two clans—the Knights or the Knaves. The Knights always tell the truth, no matter what the situation, whereas the Knaves always lie. An anthropologist named Maria, a stranger to the culture, interviewed three male denizens of the town. “To which clan do you belong?” the anthropologist asked the first. He replied with a mumble that Maria could not understand. “What did he say?” asked Maria of the second and third individuals, who answered her clearly. “He said that he is a Knight,” said the second. “No, he said that he is a Knave,” countered the third. To which clans do the second and third individuals belong?

    ***

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    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She (View Comment):
    The people of a certain town belong to one of two clans—the Knights or the Knaves. The Knights always tell the truth, no matter what the situation, whereas the Knaves always lie. An anthropologist named Maria, a stranger to the culture, interviewed three male denizens of the town. “To which clan do you belong?” the anthropologist asked the first. He replied with a mumble that Maria could not understand. “What did he say?” asked Maria of the second and third individuals, who answered her clearly. “He said that he is a Knight,” said the second. “No, he said that he is a Knave,” countered the third. To which clans do the second and third individuals belong?

    Love it, Thanks, She!

    • #5
  6. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    This is a kind of Heisenberg indeterminacy principle at work. “Be careful the company you keep.” Because we are all changed by the people we encounter and who influence us.  

    • #6
  7. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I’m nobody, who are you?
    Are you nobody too?
    Then there’s a pair of us.
    Don’t tell, they’ll advertise, you know.

    How dreary to be somebody
    How public like a frog
    To tell one’s name the live long June
    To an admiring bog.

    Emily Dickinson

    • #7
  8. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I have no idea why the line spacing gets so weird in this place.  I memorized this poem for English class in 10th grade for some reason and it never got unstuck.

    Edit:  I kind of fixed it.  I have no idea what Emily’s stanzas were.

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Skyler (View Comment):

    I have no idea why the line spacing gets so weird in this place. I memorized this poem for English class in 10th grade for some reason and it never got unstuck.

    If you type a line
    and want to break for another,
    hold down the shift key when you hit enter.

    • #9
  10. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Clearly, I cannot take the cup in front of you.

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Spin (View Comment):

    Clearly, I cannot take the cup in front of you.

    • #11