Photographs and scenarios. Skin color and clothing. Friends and alibis. All of these and many more make up the investigation towards the discovery of a criminal ’s positive ID. But is the collection of data enough to discover the identity of any person? After all, who is Harry Crumb?
Some of the most gripping thrillers and rib tickling comedies revolve around hidden personas and disguised personalities. One of my favorites was Fletch. Fletch was an undercover investigator of the Clouseau family. Stick-on beards and crazy wigs were the least of his toys of disguise. He carried reams of plastic cards to match every person he became. He had different voices and different wardrobes. He was a master of hiding his true self. With ease he shifted from being one man to becoming another. He was a Jack-of-all-trades as well as the biggest joker in the pack. He’d learned the art of the chameleon, shifting and changing, as the situation required. Who he was would determine who he would be.
Underneath the varied attire there was an unchanging man. When the set ended and the spotlights were switched off, the sunlight of reality shone on the true man, Chevy Chase. But who is Chevy Chase? I suppose it all depends on who he is acting with.
Who are you in reality? Who are you and what do you become as you play out the many scenes of life? What is reality or can it really be determined? Is it enough to say that who you are depends on whom you’re with? Many say things like, “what you see is what you get,” but I suppose this is even subject to who sees or chooses to observe them.
For many years we have tried to become what has been labeled as “authentic.” We have attempted to be the same to every person we encounter. We don’t want the supposedly negative badge of being different with every group of people we hang out with. We are asked to be constant and unchanging in who we are in every scenario. But I would suggest that this is a vain pursuit, not to mention unachievable.
We are not isolated observable machines. We are living, growing, relational beings. It is not wrong to act differently with different people. It is normal. It is how we were created. Fletch may be a far-fetched stereotype but there is some truth in the fact that we create reality. It is what we choose it to be.
We are made up of a growing inter-connection of relationships and we change as frequently as we learn from one another. We become who we need to be within each scenario. The wiser we become, the more we analyze each situation uniquely. Does this person need me to laugh with them or be quiet and listen? Does this organization need my unique gift or my plumbing one? Would it not be awful to be the same all the time? Boxed in, good at one thing in one scenario. We would lose the spontaneity of life and the fun of new discovery.
Look at yourself and blur the lines. Squint your eyes until one thing runs into another; until you lose the definition. Resist your identity getting tied to a job, title or place.
You are much more than you do. Do something different.