My autobiography would tell you what I've done and when I've done it. I prefer to tell you who I am. However, this is not easy. It may be impossible.
Describing what I've done is far easier than telling you who I am because my activities have recognizable names. In my 56 years I've pursued many interests, and I expect to continue doing so. Nevertheless, these activities don't characterize me.
So, who am I? I'm the sole entity who is conscious of my existence. By using abstract thought, I can contemplate my non-existence, past and future, but I can't experience it.
I imagine that you, too, are conscious, yet I can't know this from experience, either. I wrote the following lines to address the issue of who I am. I imagine that, in reading the words, you will imagine that you know me.
Seduced by trails, railways, rivers, open gates,
The searcher explores every passage.
His fulfillments are abundant, yet
He enjoys his attainments for only a twinkling -
A moment before they slip into history.
The searcher doesn't live in the past,
Nor does he live for the future.
His life abides in the present.
The present is the film through which
The future slips as it becomes the past.
The searcher wouldn't live a predictable life -
A life formed of identical days
Linked together like sausages.
The searcher has no more appetite for
Exhumed days than for warmed-over breakfast.
The searcher is a stranger to persons
Not perturbed by quests,
Who can't endure ephemeral pleasures.
They don't know the searcher, for
They can't hear the muse that beckons him.
The searcher is accompanied by loneliness -
A companion that he hates and fears.
To elude loneliness, he seeks solitude.
Sometimes solitude chills his loneliness.
But it always fires his drive to search.
What does the searcher really seek?
Another searcher. A similar soul,
Responding to her own muse,
To share his perceptions and to
Join him in common quests.
But the searcher doesn't know what he seeks.
So he continues to search -
To walk the endless trails,
To ride the jarring railways,
And to drift, beguiled, through open gates.
One day, perhaps, guided by his muse,
The searcher will find the other searcher
Embarked on her own quest.
One day, perhaps, guided by their muses,
The searchers will find what they have sought:
("The Searcher" - © 1990 Donald E. Watson)