Sometimes, I think that there has never been a time like this one. Then I think about how How there is this line in Hamlet, about how there is nothing new under the sun. That, of course, is centuries old. And then I think again, how Hamlet was quoting Ecclesiastes when he said that, a quote not only centuries but thousands of years old.
So to me, it feels like unchartered territory, as we enter into a world where physical “plumbing” can be different than how people identify. I have known about these things in a vague and intellectual sense since adolescence or so. But there is this growing acceptance of so many different ways of being a person. That seems pretty awesome. And it can feel pretty new.
And then I think about how the first baptized person, outside of the Jewish faith recorded in the bible was a eunoch. He did not fall onto our either/or gender binary. Hamlet and Solomon were right: there is nothing new under the sun.
The thing that has me thinking all this is a book. I am reading The Symptoms of Being Human. It is wonderful. I am ashamed to say that perhaps it would not have made it onto my radar if it were not for the author.
The author is one of my favorite people. He has been a dear friend since high school. He has this amazing habbit of reinventing himself every five or ten years: actor/film maker/rock star/writer… He has this infuriating habbit of being damn good at these things he does. There are friends who you support because you want to be a good friend. And then there are people like Jeff: if I did not know him, and somebody introduced me to the music of his band, I would listen to it. If somebody introduced me to his book, I would read it, and I would love it.
But I digress a little bit.
I am thinking tonight about how there is nothing new under the sun.
I had been curious about the book, as he was writing it. I was wondering how I would relate. I feel a little lost, sometimes, in the world. I don’t understand all the stuff that goes in with different ideas of gender and identity… I couldn’t explain the difference between a bunch of the letters they put after G,L, and B. I am lacking both a head knowledge and heart-understanding of some of this stuff.
The thing that I am thinking about tonight, though, is that there is nothing new under the sun because there is some fundamental humanity that we all just share: While it is true that I have never felt like my gender-identity switched from one day to another, while I have never felt like my biology is at odds with my psyche, I have felt like the world wants to prescribe certain beliefs and expectations on to me. The world wants me to approach things like a multiple choice test: Answer A or B.
I so often find myself wanting to answer A and B. Or I want to write an option C.
These are the reasons that I just jump into instant identification with this character, Riley. That is the power of literature, and perhaps the last great hope of all of us, that we beneath the surface of things to our commanalities beneath… Thank God that there is nothing new under the sun, because if there was, I suspect we would not be able to find each other, and find ourselves in each other. This is a reason that you need to go out and find the book, right now.
There is another, perhaps more important reason that you ought to go out and find it…
It happens to be a damn good read.