Who the fuck are you?

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

I took the tube back out of town
Back to the Rollin’ Pin
I felt a little like a dying clown
With a streak of Rin Tin Tin

I stretched back and I hiccupped
And looked back on my busy day
Eleven hours in the Tin Pan
God, there’s got to be another way

Who are you?
Ooh wa ooh wa ooh wa ooh wa …

Who are you?
Who, who, who, who?
Who are you?
Who, who, who, who?
Who are you?
Who, who, who, who?
Who are you?
Who, who, who, who?

I know there’s a place you walked
Where love falls from the trees
My heart is like a broken cup
I only feel right on my knees

I spit out like a sewer hole
Yet still receive your kiss
How can I measure up to anyone now
After such a love as this?

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

Ooh I really want to know

Come on tell me

Who the fuck are you?

I’ve always loved this song.   Pete Townshend wrote this song – struggling with his alcoholism.  It’s always tugged at me.   Starts with soft, almost mellow “who are you…who who…” trembling of the brass things on the drum set (symbols?)…Synthesizer magic… then Pete bucks up to the mic like a fighter and starts his story.  I love the dynamic roll of this song – it comes in and out.  Fades and then jumps back in my face.

If you know me, you know I like to cuss.  So of course Pete’s bold and aggressive “who the fuck are you?” gets me every time.   I can’t get enough of that shit!  I want to scream back “no! Who the fuck are you?  Don’t ask me who the fuck I am!  I don’t know.”

Do I want an answer?  Or, do I want to live the process of figuring it out?  What’s the advantage of having it answered? Maybe I’d like to answer it, then change my answer in 20 minutes, and then again and again.  Seems like we are supposed to have an answer, but as soon as I compose one, my impulses rise up and revolt.  My self doesn’t agree with my answer.  My head shakes sideways, brows furrow, “no not really that… it’s more like this…well not really that, but more like this…”

Who am I?  Is that the same as my identity?  How I describe myself – my attributes – seems different than my identity.  But you know what?  What the fuck is my identity?  I’m going to skip that question for now.  After all, Pete only asks, “Who the fuck are you?”  That’s all he really wants to know.

As I explore this question I hear how friends and family might answer, “Who is Catherine?”  She is intense (that will definitely come first), curious, a force to reckon with (that’s a quote from my friend Peggie), silly, curious, passionate, a teacher, difficult (I’ll stop there).  I don’t hear one concise answer – Catherine is X.

So there’s the duality.  Is my answer all about the sameness between who I want to be, and who (I think) I am perceived to be?  What if these are different?  Does that mean I’m a fraud?  I feel comfort as I write this because I’m confident that if 10 of my closest friends and family were asked “Who is Catherine?”  I’d agree with 99.9% of their answers.  But would I like the answers?  Prolly.  (Catherine makes up words.)

But what does this mean?  I’m a great performer?  I am authentic?  I am transparent?

Maybe time to bring in some of my academic knowledge.  (I am a social worker)  There is a term in cognitive psychology – schematic – describing a particular schema for a particular dimension.  For instance, a person in a rock band, like Pete, might have a rocker schema.  But if Pete worked as an accounting clerk during the day, he would have a “accounting clerk” schema during that period of time.  (And this would be scary for his wardrobe!

Once people develop a schema about themselves, there is a strong tendency for that schema to be maintained by a bias in what they attend to, in what they remember, and in what they are prepared to accept as true about themselves.  Bottom line – the self-schema becomes self-perpetuating.

I see this all the time as I train and coach my Bar Method teachers.  And myself.  A few posts ago I wrote about my “rocky time” – where I get myself amp’d up to teach – it’s a time where I’m reinforcing my schema of “I am a Bar Method teacher” and I’m getting into role.

So are we playing roles?  Partly.

Are we developing our own unique roles?  Partly.

Are we confused about which roles to play?  Partly.

So who the fuck are you?

I am Catherine.  That can be enough.  Because it just is!

Last week, in my bit “hold on loosely,” I talked about attachment – about the risks associated with attaching, or holding on too tightly.   If I were to answer Pete’s question and attach to my answer – “Catherine is X (full stop).” I’d risk loss.  My answer can’t exist in a vacuum and be sealed for all time.  Instead, “Catherine is” is organic – and alive.

I am Catherine.  That can be enough.  Because it just is!

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One Response to Who the fuck are you?

  1. Even if the “who” that you are changes from time to time, it seems like what Pete is calling for is for us to acknowledge whichever who we are at the time. We are all malleable, chameleons whose schema can change to fit the circumstances. Isn’t the project of life to own all those schemas, and recognize them for what they are? Interestingly, this song by Pete Townshend reminds me of another PT that I know you like: Paul Tillich.

    Check out Zelig for Woody Allen’s take on the amorphous nature of self: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086637/

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