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Addition by Subtraction

silhouette of an individual on a rocky ocean beach with their arms raised as sunset approaches

"If I am what I have and if I lose what I have who then am I?” - Erich Fromm

I worked for the same company for many years. It was a privately owned company when I began working there but the company was eventually sold to a corporation. Soon after that it did what corporations seem to do.

I remember when they began letting people go.

I recall watching two men that I had worked closely with getting shown the door. I think they were both somewhere near their mid 50's and had a good 50 years of experience at this place between the two of them.

Within a year of being let go, both of them had passed away. It was said that without their jobs they had lost their identity, their purpose.

We tend to cling to things that we believe give us our identity. Things that we have no control over and that can change in an instant.

What happens when those things are suddenly gone?

Who/What am I?

What if the ideals that we have about our life are not our life?

Take away your name, your social security number, your phone number, your work ID number, your address, and any other number that you associate with your identity.

Take away your job title and any other title that goes next to your name.

Remove what people think of you and, while you're at it, remove what you think about yourself.

Forget about your education, your status in society, all of your experiences and your ideas. Forget your entire history.

Let go of every concept, every thought, every story, every goal and every belief that you have now or have ever had.

Take away everything you have ever earned and everything you have ever learned.

Take away all of your possessions, your achievements, and everything you think you know.

Forget about every thing and every one and every feeling that you are attached to that you think defines who and what you are.

None of these things are you, they are only pieces of you that you gave significance to. But when you take them away...

What's left?

Who are you?

What are you?




Pic by - Grant Krasner


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