Who are you?

Who are you?

This was a question presented to me a few weeks back. Naturally my answer was “Well, Austin Sanderson. Why do you ask?”

“Who are you?” The question was posed again.

So I stopped and decided to think about it this time. Who am I? Honestly? I’m a twenty-one year old, white male in the United States of America. I have brown hair and brown eyes. “I’m Average.”

“Who are you?” came once more. By this time, I don’t know about you, friend, but I was getting completely tired of this question so I blurted out, “I’m a young adult volunteer in the city of New Orleans.”

A nod. Finally I’m done, or so I thought.

“What have you done that makes you sure that you are this?”

“Huh?” said my brain. “Repeat the question,” said my lips.

“What have you done that makes you sure that you are this?”

“Give me a while,” I said. Time is not the issue with this question, only thoughts. Who is this person? Some Zen master or something, I thought.

Now here it is weeks later, yet the conversation is in my mind as fresh as it was when it was spoken. Reflection is a touchy subject. Am I right? The human mind distorts memories into what is acceptable to people. Also, reflection is just something we as a species, or maybe just a society, do not like to do.

No one, and I mean no one, likes to remember everything they do. But it seems we always remember our mistakes, possibly because that’s how we learn. Dive in, don’t look, and grip and rip. But we also tend to remember our most touching events. Your newborn gripping your finger, your first kiss, your high school prom’s last dance (unless you hated your date or didn’t have one, of course).

Memory, man, I could talk about this for days, but lets keep rolling with reflection. What have I done? Well…that’s a damn good question. I have worked with the mentally handicapped. I have tried to feed a city. I have eaten with the homeless. I have built houses for the needy. Hell, I’ve even changed a light bulb or two in the name of Mother Earth.

Does this make me a young adult volunteer? Well, I didn’t get paid. No, that’s not it. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the experience I took away from all of this. Like hearing a homeless man’s tale and praying for him even though in our society, we all know what will happen to him. Or sorting cans so a family could eat dinner, make that, the whole familywould eat dinner. Or the time we played jenga with the mentally disabled – now let me tell you that was awe inspiring and heart warming. Needless to say, I lost. Between you and me, I’m not the person you’d call to stack stuff. I helped lower energy costs for low income families by installing new CFL light bulbs. Let’s just say, on average, those families now have hundreds of dollars to spend on healthier food or even on new clothes for their children. Have you ever seen a grown man weep tears of joy because the impossible became possible? I have, when my co-workers and I completed his house. This man now has a roof over his head and a place that is now his home.

So who am I is defined by the events I have experienced.

Who would have thought that?

Experiences are to a rich life as wet is to water. So I must ask: what experience make up who you are?

God bless,

Austin Sanderson


1 Comment

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One response to “Who are you?

  1. Patty Harmon

    Hey Austin,
    That was a great blog! Made me think of who am I? You should be a writer!
    Aunt Patty

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