I’m taking Speech class online this term, and for our first assignement we had to write a speech introducing ourselves using three aspects of our culture. By “culture”, the instructor means any and every aspect of your life. On one hand that makes it easier to write, but on the other hand, it makes it more difficult. How am I supposed to choose just three aspects of my personality to describe myself? I’m more than that.
I thought about this for about three days, but it never got any clearer. I started several times, only to delete it and start again. Finally I’d had enough and shoved my finger down my mental throat and puked out the required five paragraphs. We were supposed to write it as we would normally speak; this is how I speak, minus the tongue-trippings and if I had a few seconds to mentally organize my thoughts. This is what I wrote:
My name is Chris Mathewson. I’ve been searching my whole life for my own culture, and while I’ve made some discoveries, I’m growing more and more certain that what I would consider to be my culture is undefinable. Being an adopted child, my natural heritage is unknown, uncertain, or so dilluted as to be indistinguishable. On the other hand, however, not having a specific cultural heritage has allowed me to be open to a wide variety of different cultures from around the world, as well as develop my own unique system of beliefs and customs.
I believe that a person’s spirituality is a completely personal experience. It should involve years of study and discovery on one’s own. Just as people are unique in other aspects, their beliefs should be just as unique. That’s why I’ve stopped labeling myself as belonging to any religion. I’ve gone through years of introspection and have a pretty good grasp on my own spirituality. Just like my heritage, my spiritual beliefs are sampled from many, many different faiths, cut and pasted into an amalgam that is unique from anything else.
My tastes in music, movies, and other forms of entertainment are just as varied. There are only a very few musical genres that I genuinely dislike, while my list of favorites ranges from classical music like Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to fast-paced, guitar-driven heavy metal like White Zombie and System of a Down, with a myriad in between. I also enjoy a variety of movies, some that make you think and others that are filled with the crudest of humor. These varying forms of entertainment appeal to different aspects of my personality and imagination.
Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The imagination is limitless and I enjoy stretching my mind as far as I can. I read fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings, watch movies like The Matrix, and partake in my own meditative exercises that force my mind to think outside the accepted boundaries of our known reality. One of my favorite pastimes is contemplating the concept of infinity, and how our reality fits into it.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m constantly examining my life, evaluating it, and altering it depending on how I feel it is evolving. Though I see what my life should be like, I can’t always make the necessary changes, either because of environmental reasons or simply because of my own laziness and lack of will power. There is a lot of room for improvement in my life, but I’m fairly confident that my perceptions of myself are mostly accurate.
I know. Pretty bad, eh? Hopefully my instructor will see it as a “good first attempt” and be merciful on me.
I wasn’t able to talk about as much as I probably might have liked, were it a blog entry or some such. But I think the things I did talk about serve as the foundation of the other aspects of my personality, culture, etc. These things are why I believe in the things I do. These are the things that I was born with.
Perhaps at a later time I will examine more specific aspects of myself and delve more into why I am the way I am.
So while this exercise was more painful than a tooth extraction, it served to remind me that I can’t stop evaluating myself and improving what is already there.