“You are not your job, you are not the money in your bank, the car you drive, or the contents of your wallet, you are not your __ khakis.” (Fight Club)
I spent Friday afternoon having this incredible conversation with Ben Johnston (@windybenny) about young people and alcohol. The conversation kept harping back to the issue of young Australians and this concept of ‘identity’. Benny said something quite poignant the topic which I remember well – young people are wandering around today looking for an identity and alcohol companies seem to swoop into their psychology and give them one.
The undeniable truth is that risky drinking behaviour is part of Australian youth identity. Actually, calling it how it is, it’s a pretty large part of our identity as an Australian. It’s so apart of our identity that, as a nation, we are willing to spend around $15 billion dollars each year (in associated costs like hospital bills, truancy and damage) to keep it there. The problem is that in order to shift the drinking behaviours of young people, we really need to shift the identity.
I guess I realise that I too need to shift my identity. For me personally, I’m starting to realise how much I am not my Bundy and Coke or the beer with my dad. More importantly – how much I am not the effect it has on my mind.
But this concept is bigger than alcohol. Come to think of it, if there was one big concept, its probably the biggest concept there is. The concept that my true identity is separate to the things I own, who I’m with, even the ‘loose’ person I used to become when I drank – is probably the hardest pill I’m trying to swallow. It’s one of the real tragedies of the society we live in that the things we consume, end up consuming us.
Why? Because (as you can read extensively in either of Eckart Tolle’s books) a child is born without an identity, but from the point he/she is given a name, it then has an identity established for it. It’s toys, it’s clothes, it’s personality, it’s Rum and Coke – all become tiny little layers on top of a it’s true identity. Slowly, but surely, this stuff becomes perceived as symbiotic to the child’s survival and their place in society. Who are you without your friends, status job, clothes, looks?
Over the next six months, along with my mission to get rid of all the things in my life that hold me back – I have set the intention to look really carefully at my identity and really question how much of that is me and how much that is the identity I have been given by others.
This weekend, as a start to that journey, I spent a good portion of time both by myself, without my mobile (which I realise I constantly look to for reference particularly through social media, not mentioning any twames). On Sunday, I just sort of wandered around South Bank – being in the moment. Without the ‘Chris Raine’, without my iPhone and without Hello Sunday Morning – I just was. If I wanted to talk to someone, I talked to someone – if wanted to sing – I sang. My world didn’t crumble, Facebook didn’t collapse – it really made me really think about how little most stuff actually matters at all.
That night, I went to an underwater party at Rumpus Room – totally by myself. I dressed as seafood extender (wearing a red cape over white clothes) and went around introducing myself as such. There is a real freedom in being able to wear a cape to a party, not know anyone and be totally cool with being there. I figure, the more I can do that this year, really put myself into ‘socially uncomfortable’ situations, the more I will find out what my true identity actually is. If I put myself in as much social fire as I can, the unnecessary conditioning, I feel, will melt away.
All I have to do now is… just let go.
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