An essay on making choices
An alias is not a substitute for reality of the concentrated self. There are certainly many ways a person can elect to live their life, and often the choices that we face have a basis both on the circumstances of our elected prior choices, and the ones we are going to make in the future. In 2003, just before the summer began, I was accepted into a business program at a small institution known as a university. I had chosen to go into business because I had dreamed, for much time, that this is what I should do. I don’t know the concrete moment where the choice was made, or how. In fact, I could attest that it could have just been because a girl in my life had advised that for me (my highschool sweetheart). I had a duplicit, practically limitless version of myself that I had not yet begun to control or tame – a wild heart that wanted to just help someone, anyone. It could have been that I was in need of help myself. I have never really left that state.
I have often wondered where my life would have gone if I had been chosen into a different path. One that was more “accepted” or “normal.” And I put that in quotations because the environment I’ve experienced, the things that have transpired since beginning this journey to where I sit now, has taught me that my reality is the only thing I have to come to terms with.
I have often chosen an alias, which is a fictional name or call tag for who I really am. Starting with the invention of the internet, we as youth had the opportunity to pick nicknames for ourselves, diplomatic or not, to define who we were referred to as on the beginnings of social media. I have always chosen several different names, each with their own history and blanket story for the emotion and feeling about where I was at that stage in time (my time, in my life). I first remember the word Cogs. I had a mechanical aptitude, so I dreamt, and wanted something that would speak to the thinker in me. A cogwheel has a place in the mechanical puzzle of changing the direction of circular forces by interacting with nearby cog wheels. “Cogs” was perhaps a symbol of the desire I have always had to be someone different. Someone with a purpose, working and cycling through the stages of life.
I joined MSN messenger as a teenager, and I used the alias “Cognitive Dissonance.” This term refers to the state of feeling one way about something and acting in another way not in accordance with those feelings. The girl I mentioned previously had the nickname “You_do_that.” I expect that in writing I should be so kind as to open up about why I had elected this name, but truthfully I do not have much recollection. I merely thought it was a ‘cool’ idea. And that is all we want as teenagers. To be cool, otherwise known as accepted and ‘in’.
From there, I had picked several other nicknames, primarily because the development of the internet progressed into video games (initially, the consoles I played such as the Sony Playstation were primary based ‘offline’, not requiring any internet connection). I recall using fantasy names, ones that sounded like they could be real, yet foreign. Common fantasy names like elvish or dwarfish names include the popular Legolas or Grimley from Lord of the Rings. True fantasy names.
This is where the story really begins. My progression into the world of warcraft, both colloquially and also literally, because I have been playing the game with the name for almost 10 years. 10 years, where I was living in another universe, learning traits and skills, doing battle, gaining experience, and otherwise building a life for ‘myself’ in another realm that wasn’t the reality that our parents or grandparents may have experienced in their times.
The story is about aliases, however.
I recall that an alias really originates for somewhat deceptive characters throughout history. Mob bosses, assassins, the like. Names you could use to disguise your true self, and hide the somewhat different lifestyles (albeit not too different to some) of a life lived in the shadows.
I recall a few other names I once used. Blindfish Clearwaters was one. I thought it was clever, having a sense of loss, again, that exemplifies how I’ve always felt in life. A blind fish in clear waters is completely in despair. However, the reality is that unless the fish knew life without this state, they would possibly forever be affected by a dissonance, to coin the term again, that may not be seen by themselves. What I mean to say is, you often don’t know the situation you are in because it is the only life you have ever known.
Ultimately, I have arrived at a plethora of aliases that I now can no longer identify with. Clearwaters. Clearskies. Caliaux. Charcoal. Cx. Cognizance. Dylan. Saltwaters. Clearcast. Metric. Dyl. Cycle. Matthew.
However trite, an alias is a deeply rooted and deep aspect of who we are as a person. I know that names have great meaning. My own having a biblical depth, means that I have a rather dutiful approach to how I interact with the universe. Maybe my name was a gift. Maybe Michael, the name I was told I was originally supposed to be called, was the real name for me. I often hear the name used for me in error throughout my life – although recently now I have become fond of people called by that name.
It’s funny that I should use the names I do in a way that I would never have expected. A name for myself.
I’ve often wondered if the name we use to converse with others can be tarnished, repaired, healed, or changed. That sense of longing for a refresh and a do-over has always been on the horizon.
Coincidentally, God has a name that is “too holy it cannot be pronounced.” In my recent cultural sense, that name is YHWH. Don’t ask me to say it – (laugh, as this is my deep sense of humour).
What I am trying to communicate to you is more than just something that can be written, typed, and otherwise communicated. It is a sense of pride in your name, a sense of integrity for who you are and who you were and who you can be. Many others have taught me the same concept. Who you are is constantly evolving, and having read countless interpretations of these teachings, I cannot say that I have any solution that would be any different or similar for you as it was for me. That is what scares me.
I end the essay with a blank page to symbolize the clear and otherwise transparent canvas, slate, parchment or computer screen you may have need for. There is always a life after and onward…
Begin to search for it, begin to reflect on your life and your history, and always, always be sure of the name you have as a gift from someone who loves you.