Perhaps as some sort of school bully taunt, someone posted in response to one my articles, “Just who does that guy think he is…”. I have to admit, it made me smile. I have been causing people to ask that question for the better part of my life, childhood and adult. Every time I have asked a question that maybe they didn’t think I should have. Every time I have foreseen a challenge and proposed a solution before others even knew there to be a problem. Each and every time I reacted in a way different than the average or the norm or the expected. When I came out in an Ohio firehouse in 1998; when I relocated to New York City in 2000; when I obtained an “unnecessary” master’s degree in 2007 and started teaching as adjunct professor a couple of years later; or when I ventured my way back into the pews In 2012. Whatever the case, whenever the opportunity, my best days have always been defined by when the most number of people asked that question. Ironic, I suppose, that there is a bible verse that defines my purpose more succinctly than I can:
13"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (http://www.biblepath.com/beatitudes)
These verses, an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount are, from my view, a commandment. We are given the talents, abilities, mind, and heart that we have no to hide them away. Our inner being is not to be locked away, reserved for when permission is granted or only for some special occasion—like the china in the curio cabinet.
No, our lives are meant to be lived. Our ideas are meant to be shared. Questions are to be answered, and answers and solutions developed in community and fellowship with others.
So many in this world today hide from questions—much less answers. They would prefer not to challenge those in power and assume that the old ways will remain and that that the old ways and mindsets are better. Or that only a select few have a monopoly on knowledge or truth.I do not agree. I have a responsibility, obligation, and duty to share ideas—myself—and my spirit with the world around me. As does every other member of this wondrous human race. If you do not agree, well that is your choice. But the reaction to what I may say or write, well that is your own—not mine. If you are lacking in the spiritual or intellectual fortitude to come along on a journey of learning and discovery then I shall say a prayer for you, and invite you—but I shall not abide or pause myself-- while you grow into a life greater than the one you have imagined for yourself and finally get around to giving me permission to live mine.
We in this day and age are fond of lists. I suppose it might make it easier, given my habit of writing lengthy answers, to provide an alternative answer to the question that motivated this response:
So here it goes: Who Am I?
I am an Ohioan; New York Immigrant; I am adopted; I am loved and loving; I am dedicated; caring; honest; and passionate. I am a writer; photographer; and public servant. I am a college graduate twice over; a certified Communications Center manager and Emergency Number Professional. I am a student; a gallery exhibited artist; and a business owner. I am a friend, best friend to more than a few; and a lover of meeting new people and making connections that bridge differences. I am a Christian and an attendee of the Riverside Church. I am a fan of movies; airplanes; country music; travel; history; politics and museums. I am a proud gay person—out since 1998—and never lost a friend, family member, or anything else by being who I was made by God to be. I am a blogger; project advisor; and Chief Fire Dispatcher in the New York City Fire Department—and a damn talented one at that. Not because of myself alone but because I have been fortunate to have learned from many amazing and wonderful people and I keep learning-- every single day. I am the Grandson of George and Lenora and Walter and Agnes; brother of Holly; and Brother in Law to Matt; and Uncle to Emma and soon to be Hannah. I am a welcomed customer at the Three Jolly Pigeons Bar; Anapoli Family Restaurant; the laundry mat on the corner; and the Thurman café in Columbus Ohio. I am blessed to have more great friends than I dare list here—and so lucky to have been granted an experience over these last thirty-eight years that has been full of more wonder and amazement than I could have ever imagined. I am a human being—never perfect—but always striving to grow and learn and challenge myself to be more than I assumed I could be. I have played firefighter a few times; ridden a few calls on an ambulance; lost myself in a soup of doubt and fear so deep that I never thought I would escape—on at least two occasions. I love Dogs and Otters and Penguins—and I love that moment of standing in the museum—looking at art— when you for just one moment you can live inside the soul of the creator. I love buttered popcorn; lemon-lime seltzer; Guinness; Key West; and will someday find a partner to share it all with. Or maybe not. But through all of it—these and the countless other ways that define me—I have never been—never will be—alone. And for that I am most thankful of all.
That is who I am: Christopher Blake Carver—born and raised in the Midwest—living in New York—and so grateful to have been asked that schoolyard question—so that I could be reminded of what the answer really means.