Is there a question more perplexing than “who am I”? I am as close to myself as anyone could ever hope to get. The most intimate relationship, perfect unity and identity is “I”. I am I. I = I. And yet, who is that “I” on either side of the equation? Who is behind the question and all the familiar experiences of being myself?
There is something strange about the phenomenon of selfhood. I am intuitively present to myself in each experience. Yet when I want to examine who I am and turn my attention inward to search for it, I cannot find it. Call it self-opacity or self-transparency, but I struggle when I try to catch a glimpse of myself.
It is no wonder that something so intimately available and simultaneously elusive causes us confusion, wonder, curiosity, and at times a desperate need to understand. So much so that a quick Google search entry of “who am I” returns about 25,270,000,000 results… that’s roughly three times more than the current world population.
Some of the most beautiful, passionate, and resonating efforts to explore this question come from poets, humanity’s philosophers of the soul. I feel these two poems capture the bittersweet experience of selfhood and offer solace in the reminder of our shared humanity.