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Kind of Person

‘I am the kind of person who….’

I’ve been wondering how I would finish that sentence. I’ve also been wanting to ask others how they would finish it. I’ve done neither. I think I am not sure what it means. Or maybe I am scared of it.

Then last night I came across it in a (wonderful) novel (Oh William by Elizabeth Strout). Lucy Barton, the main character, is thinking about this idea: ‘I do that, and so I am the kind of person who does that.’ That unsettled me. It did that thing that a truth can do. It rearranged things without permission.

So now I have to see that I am willing to do things but not to think of myself as the kind of person who does those things.

It depresses me. If I think about it quite a lot. Which I do.

But it also is semi-uplifting because seeing it can (not that it will, but it might) create a way to stop doing things that I really shouldn’t do, or don’t even really want to do, or that I think I won’t do again, but do. What I mean, what I hope (feebly), is that the next time I start to do something like that, I’ll remember that if I do it, it means that I am the kind of person who does that. And I’ll stop.

For example, I am critical of people. Maybe you are, too. But that doesn’t absolve me. I wish it did. And I won’t say who those people are in case you know them. And anyway, I wouldn't be critical of others if I weren’t critical of myself, one way or another. So they say.

But the larger point is that if I am critical of people, then I am the kind of person who is critical of people. And that is a colossal thing to face.

So I’ll face it: if I do something, I am the kind of person who does that. End of.

Sometimes I hate truth.