Hello. It’s Me. …the struggle for identity…
As you know, we pups have really great hearing – far stronger than any human has. Lately, I’ve been hearing radios, phones, TVs, computers, all playing the same thing – this pained voice singing a beautiful song that starts “Hello – It’s me.”
The first time I heard it, since we hadn’t heard anything from that voice for a few years, it made sense to hear her say “it’s me,” to all of us who heard her say “Hello” and thought “Hey, isn’t that…?!” But now, I’ve heard it so much I want to bark back to say, “Okay! Enough! We know it’s you!”
But then, as it’s kept playing, it’s gotten me thinking about something very interesting – about this particular time in human history.
Most of you know that this great singer has now put out three albums, each of which tells about a year in her life. And each title is about each age, 19, 21, and her new one, 25. What I find fascinating is that this new album will probably take over from the gigantic popularity of another singer’s album that’s dominated the radios for a couple of years now, titled 1989, for the year of her birth.
Think about this – probably the two most popular singers in the world, who both tend to record autobiographical songs about their relationships, and both putting out albums whose titles tell us when they were born, and how old they are.
What’s going on?
It used to be common for pop artists to put a year on their album to show how current they were – think of big successes like Beatles ’65, Sinatra ’65, Talking Heads ’77, or simply the great Aretha Now. Or other folks even made themselves futuristic, like that huge album from 1982 called, um 1999! So this is different – these women aren’t saying they’re “now,” or “what’s coming;” they’re arguing something else.
I kept thinking about this, and my mind went to others of the most popular singers out there – there’s that guy who’s usually going on about how great he is, and recently said he’s going to run for president; there’s that other guy who put out a song called “Sorry,” that lots of people think is an apology for his public bad behavior; and there’s that woman cheering girls everywhere to “Roar” and be a “Firework.” Not to mention the superstar who for years has argued in his raps that whatever you think he is is wrong, including any one of his three names he uses (and will the real one please stand up, please stand up!)
And I thought – you know what? This is an exciting moment. And it’s all about Identity.
There have been other times when pop music emphasized the personal – the early 1970s are often called the “Singer-Songwriter” era, a time when lots of the top groups broke up and their individual members performed songs about things like their childhoods, mothers, and every detail of their romances. But this is different. Those past artists seemed to be saying, “I want you to see the rest of me.” But these newer ones are yelling “Hey! I’m Here! Don’t Ignore Me!” As if they’re creating their existence by stating it.
That’s pretty big.
We pooches don’t have large enough brains to hold a sense of our own identities. I know I am what I am, because I just am. I like to be noticed, so I bark. But I don’t care a bit about whether the ones I bark at know my name, or how I feel about my friends, or what year I was born.
But you humans do. A lot right now. And it’s not just in the new music. It’s in the events we’re seeing worldwide – good and bad – where countries debate about what their identity is and whether it includes refugees from other places, where people kill and torture others in hopes of achieving an ethnic purity, and where masses march chanting that their lives matter.
Their lives matter. Wow. How much one must feel their identity is ignored to feel they have to say their lives matter. How absolutely horrible.
And then, think about it – for the whole duration of humankind, there have been people who didn’t feel right about the bodies they were born in, believing to the core of their souls that their true identities didn’t match their outer sex. But never before has this been as much in the news, or TV shows… never so much in the public’s mind. It’s as if everyone everywhere is either yelling “See me for what I am!” or listening to someone else say it – whether they like it or not.
(Just in case you’re wondering, no dog has ever been transgendered. Because, you see, we don’t have any sense of our gender! I’m a female, but I lift my leg when I pee. Why? I don’t know, I just do! You humans, with your large brains, have to deal with so much more grief about these things than we do!)
So I’m not going to tell you what to do about these identity issues. I’m going to assume that every one of you is going through this, and feels the need to scream it out. And as you do, I’ll be listening, fascinated.
But I do hope you also, occasionally, can let go of it. And just accept, the way I do, that you simply are. And that whether other people see you or notice you, or accept you… or even whether or not you accept yourself the way you were born… you still can just be.
Please don’t ignore, or forget, what’s frustrating you. But could you, every now and then, simply remember that deep down you’re a being, like me, and that you can run like crazy, chase birds you’ll never catch, bark at the clouds, jump so high you fall down laughing, and get yourself very very muddy.
And maybe when you do, you can live up to those words that singer who was born in 1989 said…
“’Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off!”