“And who are you?”

From an untitled event held in Belfast on 4th November, 2012. By Padraig O Tuama. Read before the giving of a gift.

For all our talk of learning from the other, this is only a task that can be begun, and begun and begun and begun. It never ends. It only begins.

When you say “this is what I think”  you are, at best, only speaking for one of the voices that is in you – it may be the voice that is loudest, it may be the voice that is the smartest, it may be the voice that is the clearest, or the least afraid, or the most afraid.

You are, at best, only marginally friendly with all of the others that inhabit your own body. There are bones in you that you will never befriend, rarely listen to, and regularly reduce to silence.

Once, I was walking across a road and an old priest was on the footpath. As I crossed the road, he said to me “And who are you?” Even though I gave him an answer, the truer answer is “I will give you the answer to that question when I discover who I am with you”. We are only ever a bit of ourselves in any one moment. Today I am this bit, tomorrow that bit.

And that’s not really a problem. It’s probably just fine. It’s probably just fine.

Some of you were phoned, some of you weren’t. Some of you feel special, others don’t. Some of you were always the other – not picked for the sports team, not at the top of the class.

And you’re probably okay with this. And it probably won’t last for ever.

So, here’s a call for all of us. Come forward. Take a bit of a mirror. You will never know all of your self because your self isn’t all of its self yet… if it ever will be. Take a bit of a mirror. See a bit of yourself today. See a bit of your self tomorrow.


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