About ten years ago at Twin Oaks Community I wrote on a 3 x 5 notecard announcing to the world that my new name is henceforth "(I)An-ok", which is pronounced "Yan-ock". Since then I have traveled all over the country meeting all kinds of different people, introducing myself to them as "(I)An-ok".
Nowadays, after all that time, I commonly introduce myself to others using my original and legal name, which is "Ian". Increasingly those who know me by "(I)An-ok" are making the switch back as well. "(I)An-ok" is dying.
I adopted "(I)An-ok" for a very important reason - I was creating my own new identity for myself. I objected to how others saw me previously, as well as to how I saw myself. I saw "Ian" as representing passiveness, acceptance of the status quo, and bland un-original conformity. I began at that point a decade-long quest to re-create and re-define myself in opposition to how my parents molded me as well as in opposition to how the world-at-large constructed me. I wanted to be a new person and to live a life that is radically different from everything that I had ever known before. I wanted to live outside of what most folks even considered possible.
The name in itself signified something of a unity and identification taking place between myself with the philosophy of anarchism. I didn't think about it this way explicitly as such, but on a very core & fundamental level that was the case. The name is a combination & synthesis of my original name "Ian" together with the word "anok", which is a little-known punk rock abbreviation for "anarchist", "anarchy", things of that nature. My name did not explicitly "mean" that, I usually told others that "(I)An-ok" did not actually "mean anything" per se. But on a deep level, it did.
That all feels over, or mostly-over, for me now. One reason is that increasingly I find very little to gain of value by holding onto "anarchist" as an identity for myself. A friend once told me that he essentially had anarchist views but that he never refers to himself as one. He said that to introduce oneself to a stranger by identifying yourself as an "anarchist" is for many folks the equivalent of meeting a stranger and saying, "hello, I am a violent asshole". It simply is just way too much work to clear up that kind of initial misunderstanding, so it's best to start out some other way.
I feel as if I am entering a new phase of my life now in terms of how I see myself, how I would like others to see me, and more importantly in terms of the general underlying sense or feeling that is moving through me in what I do. For most of the last ten years of life I have felt a general underlying sense of opposition or desire to destroy all that is around me (in terms of social institutions, life-styles, standard operating procedures) and now - I yearn for more peace, acceptance, and stability throughout all that I do.
That all being said, I really do not feel the drive to identify myself with any particular group, belief system, cause, ideology or movement. There are many different things that I like, many different things that I have identified myself with in the past. But now, the whole thing seems like a receipe for disaster. I say this because every belief system is limited, every person is fallible, and everything is impermanent. To identify with something like this is to set oneself up for needless suffering - something which I have put myself through again and again repeatedly these past ten plus years.
So there are many different things taking place all at once here:
For one I no longer feel the great burning desire for myself to stand out, to be unique, "to make a name for myself" so-to-speak.
At the same time I do not feel a particular affinity for that which falls under the name of "anarchist" above or beyond other labels, belief-systems, and ideology-based social scenes that I also have affinity with.
And I do not feel a particular desire to identify myself with any particular belief system for I see that as a way in which one creates unnecessary suffering for oneself.
As a result of all of this, "Ian" emerges once again. I've been around a bit, through a bunch, with a few others, and here I am again.
Now I'm back to where I started.
But not really.