Who Am I?

The following question often sneaks up on us when we least expect it:

Who am I?

It seems like a simple question, but when we haven’t ruminated on it for a long period of time, it can really smack us hard in the face when our guard is down.

Who are you–at your very core–without all your superficial qualities? The titles, the awards, the names, the records, the stories, the successes, and the failures?

When all is said in done, when all your battles have been either lost or won, what will they call you?

What will they say about you?

What do you want them to say about you?

And if this is to be the spring time of your life–who is this new you? This new you that you have given birth to after the winter of your life has frozen and shattered all that you had once been?

Who are you now?

Who are you?

Who am I?

Who I Am

I am a writer.

This is how I choose to define myself in this world that is ever-changing–and in this life that ever changes me.

I love this descriptor because I can be a writer anywhere, in any from, and through any venue. I am a writer even when I don’t write.

As a writer, I observe and I translate life in way that helps us make sense of it. I try to remind people what they should focus on, and what they shouldn’t focus on.

Even when I don’t seem like I am playing the part of a writer–like when I act, sing, dance, or direct–I am still, fundamentally, a writer. This is the lens through which I view the world.

I am a storyteller.

I try to be the narrator of our lives, of our story.

Someone has to provide the “voice over” of this grand film after all. Someone has to make sense of all the madness, right?

I’ll do it.

I choose to be that: the narrator, the storyteller, the truth-teller.

I tell stories so that we can come to know ourselves better. I tell stories so that we can solve our problems. I tell stories so that we can learn to lead happier, more joyful, and more prosperous lives.

I am an optimist. Yes, I choose to be an optimist now. The idealist. The dreamer.

(I was once very cynical. Not anymore. It didn’t suit me. The negativity just didn’t feel right inside my skin. A cynic just wasn’t who I was. I doubt it will ever be. And I figure that we don’t need another realist–we have enough of those already. No, instead: let me add to the “endangered species” of optimists then, and maybe they won’t go extinct after all.)

So, throw me the criticism of being the “naive one,” the harbinger of “false hope,” or the “non-realist.”

I’ll gladly take it. It won’t dampen my spirits, because, as I’ve said: I am the optimist now.

I choose to be an agent of love, light, hope, peace, forgiveness, compassion, understanding, consolation, faith and joy.

So, when I ask myself:

“Who am I?”

Here is what I respond today:

I am Ollin. (A word that means movement and change in an Aztec language.)

I am in flux. I am progress.

I am your friend, and I am here to offer a helping hand when one is needed.

I am a warrior (of the spiritual kind).

I am deeply flawed, but I promise that I will always try to do good. But should I recant on my promise, I will be the first to admit my transgression, ask you for forgiveness, and I will try my best to make it up to you.

I am here, and “here” is real.


I am a part of something bigger than myself, what some might call “God,” and which I will call “that majesty which no word could ever properly describe.”

I am a part of this mysterious being, and being a part of it, I know that I matter and what I do matters.

And underneath the mystery of it all, the clock of destiny ticks to an unknown rhythm; and if I can follow that rhythm, I will find myself back home quicker than I expected.

Knowing who I am now, I can move forward with greater confidence. I need no longer fear that this fundamental question might sneak up on me, when I least except it, to slap me in the face.

much love,


[Editor’s note: this post originally featured the song “Walk Me Home” by Sean Fournier.]

Today’s Courage Exercise

Ponder the question: “Who am I?” Find an answer to this fundamental question now so that it won’t slap you in the face when you least expect it.

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7 comments on “Who Am I?

  1. I cannot express to you how much I enjoyed this. “I am a writer”, clearly stating that to the universe is so freeing. Claiming it, I then rejoice in it. You are amazing and I thank you. What a great way to start my day.

  2. kari says:

    Bravo. YES, indeed.

  3. Because if this blog, I will be sure to follow you for future postings. I will answer this question in the same way, for writing is all I know. It is the only thing I can do when I awake to allow me happiness. Writing is not a joy or a drag for me; it is my life; it is what I must do.

    I have more.

  4. Erik H says:

    I loved the thoughts on being a writer! That’s exactly what I aspire to be some day! Keep up the great posts!

  5. A good day for this question: Who am I? I wish Mr. Obama had also asked it of all of us. I am a writer. And whenever I get stuck on what it is I’m doing here, I remind myself of that. And yes, it stands for many things – creator, ponderer, doodler, poet, maker of beauty, observer of people and trees and rhythms, dancer, question-asker. Thank you, Ollin, for asking us all, and for answering it, too. -Dana

  6. Evan says:

    I love this piece for its optimism and honesty. It created a spark in my brain today and it made me shine a little brighter. Thank you!

  7. […] may know who we are, yes, but if we don’t know why we’re here, we can’t know where we’re going. […]

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