What Defines You?

I often wonder in the absence of any religion how I should define myself as so many people pool themselves into an identification based on their religious beliefs; I am a Christian man. I am a Jewish American. I am an Islamic woman. Okay, so you’ve heard me state that I am an Atheist, but that is not what defines me.

Replace The Squircle in this pie chart with Modern Father Online

When you break it down to your life over the course of a normal week – of which there are 168 hours – if we go with Welsh Social Reformer (ironically, I defined him) Robert Owen who coined the phrase “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest,” that is 56 hours of work/chores, 56 of recreation and 56 hours of rest or sleep. In percentage and fraction terms (and this is easy even for the entry level mathematicians), that is 33.3% or one third of your life that you are sleeping, the exact same percentage for doing work or chores and again the same percentage or fraction of your time being spent being a recreationalist (sic).

Now if I break down my own week – and I’m going to pretend I sleep 8 hours each night – that is 56 hours of rest or sleep, 40 hours of work, 16 hours of chores and a further 56 hours of recreational time. And just to prove a point for the next part of my argument, I’m going to break down the recreation into researching, planning and writing for Modern Father Online (shown as The Squircle as I wrote this for that blog originally) which splits that chunk of my doughnut into smaller percentages. And by doing this, as you can see by my ring graph, the larger individual portion of my week goes to sleeping and/or resting, so if it was purely a numbers game, I’d have to define myself as a Sleeper. But then again, so would we all.

When we look at the other activities within a standard week for me, work takes up the next highest percentage of my time. For my day job I am in Sales and Marketing. Do I define myself as a salesman? How about a marketer? Well I do sell myself through this website, my social media and within my day job. So maybe that’s me. Maybe that’s how best to define me.

I spoke to a few religious friends. I wanted to find out that if the thing that most defines them is being part of that religious group. Based on my “purely numbers” scenario, how much of their week do they dedicate to being that label? The hours spent ranged from as little as one per week – mostly made up of nightly prayers – up to 20 for someone who is teaching religious scripture. When you consider that one hour is only half-a-percent, 16 hours and 48 minutes is 10%, then 20 hours per week is greater than the amount of time I do chores each week; it’s just short of 12% of the whole week.

One would suggest that someone who not only is a believer, but also committed so far as to become and apologist or preacher, a missionary or teacher would definitely define themselves as being a Christian, or Muslim, a Buddhist or Jew. And that can also be applied to Atheists who dedicate their life to promoting Atheism. For his Wikipedia entry, Richard Dawkins is defined as an English Ethologist, Evolutionary Biologist and an Author, but if I took a straw pole right now I am sure I’d get a resounding response from believers and non-believers alike; Richard Dawkins is an Atheist. And that is how he would be forever defined.

The following is an incomplete list of things I attribute to me, and the reason why I can’t be defined solely as this;

  • A Father – but only to my boys, or the preschool when signing in to pick them up
  • A Husband – but only to my wife, or to any woman that asks “how you doing?” the way Joey from Friends asked it. This rarely happens but…
  • A Dreamer – but only when writing the sentence above…
  • A Son – but only when I have time for my dad, which I try to do often. But sometimes the sentiments of Cat’s in the Cradle rings true to that scenario…
  • A Brother – but only when MY brother needs me to come and do some handy man work for him, or lend him my tools. Love you bro…
  • A Guitarist – but not so much now that the band is on semi-permanent hiatus, and I only get my guitar out about once a month these days
  • A Labor Voter – but only on election day; when it counts. Otherwise it is just useless banter; preaching to the converted, or annoying the opposition.
  • An Atheist – but only when defending the rights of those who are oppressed by religions
  • A Nondenominational Christian – but only when I’m doing the good things that the Bible says Jesus taught; though still not believing in the mythology surrounding it. Oh, and also in December when I sing carols. I love Christmas.
  • A Jedi – but only when contemplating turning to The Dark Side, but remembering that there can only be two – a Master and his Apprentice, and I don’t allow myself to show anger and hatred towards the Sith as this only leads to The Dark Side.
  • The Family Chef – but only when preparing meals, duh…
  • A Salesman – but only when I’m selling
  • A Writer – but only until I finish this sentence.

So how do you define yourself? Is there one thing above all else that you do that defines you?

5 thoughts on “What Defines You?

  1. Nicely written. It’s these sorts of questions I used to ask myself frequently, key word being “used to.” I find that since having children, its extremely easy to lose track of who we are as individuals. I’d call myself a non-practicing atheist. Where as in my youth I spent hours reading and talking about what it means to live in a world without some type of god. Those days were like my sling shot around the sun, now I am just riding out the momentum from those days.

    I really liked this and it fits me well: “An Atheist – but only when defending the rights of those who are oppressed by religions” Other than that, my approach to things tends to be tinted by my lack of a religion, specifically involving my tendency to learn about science and technology. Rather than piss my time away reading the bible which is 95% drivel and maybe 5% good philosophy, I read books about quantum mechanics. It helps me appreciate the true mystery and wonder of our physical reality. When I teach my children lessons I do it from a natural law frame of mind, those types “truths we hold as self evident.” In other words, the golden rule “Do to others as you’d have done to you.”

    Anywho, I digressed a bit there. Your question: “is there one thing that defines me more than anything?” While I may not be actively engaged with my children as much as sleeping and even working, I still define myself as a father. If I am not with them, I am thinking about them. I feel them at all times. They are truly my life and for that I have no regrets.

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