Checking Off Boxes

Eric Tordjiman

Jan 12, 2021

By Eric Tordjman

I recently had a conversation with a friend who thought they had reached some clarity as to who they are today — filling out a government document, they had to select only one box as to their status. It was a singular question that gave you perfunctory choices but really did not define who you truly are.

It got me thinking about who I am. Who I am at work is different from who I am at home or when I volunteer or to my mom or my brothers or my friends… You get the idea. Who we are is really a multi-faceted trick question. It is really defined by who we think we are in particular instances and within a certain setting… at a point in time to someone else.

We are complex, we have cellular relationships with the people around us and with the world at large.

We support some people and at other times people support us.

We care for some people and at other times people care for us.

We are brothers/sisters/aunts/uncles/moms and dads, and other times other people are exactly that to us.

So the pandemic arrives and throws all of our relationships into turmoil. It adds a dimension to the relationships that we never thought we needed in our “tool-belt.” We have become Supporters and Encouragers of positive thought in public while quietly dreading some days. This pandemic had thrown our regular lives into a spiral that we could have never had anticipated or prepared for. My mom never gave me the skill set to handle this, and yet we all persevere. We as humans have proven to be the greatest adaptors to challenges and adversity. The spirit that I see regularly is at times despondent and yet we go on with life as best we can. We go food shopping with masks. We wipe down all kinds of things we never considered wiping before these times. We drive up to stores and nice people put things in our trunks simply because we ask them to. We email our orders to certain stores and they send us things by mail. It feels like we got an unexpected gift when it arrives — a feeling quickly deflated when we remind ourselves of the impending credit card bill.

The idea that we are singular beings that can be categorized as one thing is ridiculous. You notice that the choices we are given to indicate status are never things like Happy or Sad, Excited or Indifferent… The boxes are exactly that, boxes that are meaningless and hollow. We are creations that are designed to be emotional and complex (some more than others), and I would suggest that at this time of year, during this pandemic, we should think of ourselves as greater than who we regularly are. We will look back on this period, as will the history books, as a time that we survived and made us a little different, perhaps more appreciative. It has reminded us of who we wanted to hug/kiss but dare not. It reminded us of where we wanted to travel to but could not. It has reminded us of events and celebrations that we wanted to attend but resentfully could not. These emotions make us human. These are the things that make us who we are. These wishes and desires are what make our lives so resplendent.

Forget the box that asks what your status is.

Remember who you have become as a result of the people around you and check that box.

Eric Tordjman is Leader of Tireless Workers at Mercury Lighting Solutions in Vaughan, Ontario;

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