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  • Writer's pictureGiacomino Nicolazzo

This Is Who I Am...

Updated: Sep 2, 2023


Edition 56. September 2023

One morning a little over two years ago now, in the early months of the pandemic, the spirit finally got around to moving me to shave my old, weathered, gray-stubbled face. I found myself standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom, staring for quite some time. I was lost in deep thoughts...some pleasant, others bordering on utter despair. The world had become a very scary place for me.

To be honest with you, I found myself standing in front of that mirror staring at myself a lot back then. Not in an egotistical sort of way mind you...but when I brushed my hair or my teeth, I could not help but notice the metamorphosis I was undergoing. And more often than not, I was taking a good, long, worrisome look at that suspicious growth on my face under my left eye. One day I remember blurting out...

“What the hell could that be?”

Then the part of my mind that manufactures my negative thoughts took off and ran wild!

That morning I saw a face staring back at old one. One that I did not recognize. The stubble of whiskers on this face was completely white. I remember thinking to myself...

“Oh my God! When the hell did this happen?”

The face looking out at me was a bit rounder and had many more creases and a lot more wrinkles than the one looking in. I asked myself...

“Am I looking in the wrong mirror?”

I noticed the hairline. It was receding. The temples were much, much too gray. The cheeks did the skin beneath the chin. I shouted for Diana...

“Who is this old man I am looking at and why is he in my bathroom?”

Dear God, I’d grown old! That infernal mirror, and all the others I pass throughout the course of my day, feel compelled to remind me of this constantly...

“Why? Why can’t I escape my own reflection?”

I could hear Diana’s footsteps coming down the hall. I heard her voice...

“I’m coming! Is something wrong? Are you OK?”

In a mix of anger and frustration, I just blurted out my answer...

“Damn these mirrors! We should get rid of them all!”

Then she was standing in the doorway...

“Relax for goodness’ sake! You are only as old as you feel!”

What did she know? Why should I listen to her? She is so much younger and still so very beautiful. I could not help but voice my opinion...

"Just wait! Just wait until you see what I see looking back at you!"

That was two years ago. One morning in late December of last year, I found myself standing in front of that mirror again. The old bastard was back...staring right at me. We had another one of our terse conversations. I started it...

“I read an interesting article the other day. Did you know there was once a time in the great arc of human history, not all that long ago, when we hardly ever saw our own faces. We saw instead the faces of our parents, our siblings, our relatives, others in our tribe, our village...even the few strangers from time to time who passed through.”

I stopped talking. I waited. I expected a response. After a few moments of rude silence, the face in the mirror spoke back...

“And I bet you think that was a much better time to live, don’t you?”

Before I could answer in the affirmative, the face continued...

“Are you familiar with the fable of The Ugly Duckling or the story of Narcissus?”

Again, before I could muster an answer, he continued...

“Well, that duck and the son of the River God Cephisus, both had the opportunity to see their true selves in the reflection of a pool of water. And they discovered something. Do you want to know what they found?”

Something told me this was not so much a question as it was a statement that was going to be made, whether I liked it or not. And I was right. The face kept right on talking...

“Both of them discovered they were not who or what they were led to believe they were.

Both discovered they were so much more than that!”

It prompted me to ask a serious question...

“OK! I am looking in the mirror and I am seeing you. Are you me? If so, who am I?”

It answered...

“Are you sure you want to know?”

Oh my God! He answered my question with another question. How I hate that! And then...

“Are you willing to take the time to find out?”

Another question? I didn’t know what to think, let alone answer. Before I could do either, the face broke into a snide grin. It spoke again...

“You will be surprised by what you learn.”

I will forewarn you though, you may not like some of the answers.

Should I continue?”

Reluctantly I nodded. And this is pretty much how the conversation went from there...

“You are going to find that you do not have a separate self.

You are the continuation of your ancestors...of the family that has gone on before you.

All of them are fully present in every cell of your body.

You, my old friend, are their continuation.

As I said, you don’t have a separate self.

If you remove your ancestors from the formula...well, there’s no you left.”

I stopped shaving and put down the razor. Just as I was wiping the last traces of shaving cream from the corners of my mouth, the face had something more to say...

“But be careful!

Do not be fooled by a reflection in the mirror.

It is not you!

It is just the self that you can see.

To find your true self you won’t find it using your own eyes or your own mind!

Your true self is beyond your senses...beyond your conscious thinking.

And it is the only self that matters!”

Before I answered I rolled my eyes, a bit exasperated...

“What the hell does that mean?”

It answered...

“It means exactly what it means.

You can’t define yourself.

So don’t even try.

You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”

I thought to myself...

“Oh great! He is quoting Einstein now!”

It continued...

"What I am saying is that you must go deeper than that.

You will have to speak with your soul if you want to get the straight answers!”

Well, my little chat with that old bastard came to an end. It left me confused, a bit angry and inordinately preoccupied with my mortality. But in retrospect it could not have come at a more fortuitous time. Who knows...maybe it was meant to happen at that exact moment.

That conversation that morning is what has gotten me through some pretty dark times of late. And now it has me looking at bright, sunny skies in the days ahead that I have left.

I took his advice. I pretty much withdrew from the world. I vowed to steer clear of social media and the cesspool that it has become. For all intents and purposes, I stopped writing.

I embraced my poor health and physical limitations, and I set out on that pilgrimage, trekking deep inside myself to that place within me where my soul resides. And it was just as the face said it would be...

I was truly amazed by what I found.

The purpose of a pilgrimage, or so I thought, was to go about setting aside a long period of time in which the only focus the pilgrim should have should be on the things that matter...

only to the soul.

I also used to think that a pilgrimage meant going away. Somewhere else...far, far away from all that is familiar. Far enough so one can focus without distraction. But it isn’t that at way all. It is actually about staying right where you are...

it is about coming home.

I did not need to go anywhere...nowhere at all as a matter of fact, let alone the far edges of the earth. All I needed to do was to go to the far edges of myself.

I found it did not matter who I was at any time in my life so far. All that really matters is who I am right now...

at this precise moment in time.

This is where I am finding my true real time. This is where I finally understand the purpose of having a conscience. It is a compass...

it neutralizes the ego and gives us direction.

I discovered that I should not be doing the good, right, moral and ethical things in life (whether anyone is watching or not) simply because they make me feel good. To the contrary... I should be doing them because doing the wrong things makes me feel bad.

You see, the words conscience and compass are synonymous...

they are one in the same.

I am learning so much that I either did not know before or was intentionally avoiding for one reason or another. I would like to share a few of these discoveries in our chat today, so I hope you will indulge me for just a bit longer. This is pretty much else what I found out...

I have grown old! I am two decades in age beyond a half century. These days I find myself waiting more for the end than I do planning for the future, but oddly...

I find myself thinking about my beginnings.

I am an old man with many and as varied as the years I have lived. Good memories and bad. Some meaningful. Others meaningless. Some so tremendously painful as to bring me either to tears or to my knees. Others are so exquisite in their pleasure as to bring all my senses to life again...

as if I were experiencing them for the very first time.

Many of these memories remain vivid for me, filled with fabulous, bright and brilliant colors. Unfortunately, there are those that are fading...

into the many shades of gray.

I still can hear the music of life I once sang as a young man and the voices of those I loved who sang along with me. But I worry what will become of me when these colors and those sounds fade into the distance…

into that place where memories become dark and silent.

Despite all this, I am deliriously happy...for the very first time in my life. I have nothing now but praise for my life. I love someone dearly...beyond words. And they love me back...

Together we are able to love deeply and live fully.

Though I cry from time to time, actually more often than I care to admit, it is not because I am sad. I cry because I miss the people that I have loved and those who have gone before me. They are an inextricable part of me. As the man in the mirror told me, they will exist and remain forever, not only in my thoughts and memories, but in each and every cell of my body.

They die and I cannot stop them.

They depart and they do not return.

They have left a hole in my heart that does not heal...

But a single thought of them can thrill me.

A particular song playing on the radio can soothe me.

A wafting scent in the air reminds me of my mother’s kitchen.

An old black and white photograph of my grandfather reminds me of his old garage.

The smoothness of my father's old sweater still somehow smells of his Old Spice.

These things and more can take me back. These things and more make me miss them terribly. Their absence, oddly enough, makes me love them all the more.

I am a man of many ages and still very much remain in each of them. Because I was once a child, I shall always be a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, those years shall always be a part of me as well. I have been a father and a lover, a mentor and a friend. All these titles will proudly remain a part of who I am…


I am a man with many things to say. Many stories to tell. But I wonder…does anyone care what I have to say?

Is anyone listening to my words?

I will tell you this. When I was a young man, I could not possibly conceive how quickly time would pass and that precious moments and untaken opportunities could be lost in the blink of an eye. Lost forever...

never ever to be recaptured.

I can tell you that you will awaken one day and find that your life has rushed by you at a speed just as impossible to it is too cruel to accept.

The most intense moments of your life will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing...nothing, will have erased their pain or their pleasure.

You will long for the impossible intensity of love and the blessed happiness it can bring.

You will regret the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or feelings unexpressed, or differences unresolved.

I am a man who longs to lie under an azure blue sky and dream of helpless, selfless love…to behold myself illuminated in the golden light of another's eyes.

A man who continues to yearn, continues to burn...foolishly with desire.

A man whose aging and failing body is now mocked by a brain that still longs to stretch out naked in the tall grasses beneath the warm sun…

to form a beautiful shape in someone else's gaze.

Yes...I am a man who thinks about these things.

This is who I am. EDITION 56. THIS IS WHO I AM.mp3

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٧ تعليقات

Katy DidIt
Katy DidIt
٠٤ أكتوبر ٢٠٢٣

We have a lot in common, Gia. However, I could never word it as beautifully as you did. Wow....


Jerry Fino
Jerry Fino
٠٨ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣

This is one of the most incredible, self-aware things I've ever read. What great timing. I'm in my 30th year as a teacher, 65, contemplating what's next as I run out of gas for what I've done all my adult life. This is calming. This is reassuring. Of what's after this life I have no anxiety. How to frame my remaining time here seems to be the hand-ringer. No more. This is beautiful, liberating. Thank you.

Giacomino Nicolazzo
Giacomino Nicolazzo
٠٨ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣
الرد على

What a wonderful compliment you paid me Jerry. It was heartfelt on your part and very touching on mine. Grazie. Grazie mille. Writing this particular blog, more so than any other to date, was cathartic for me. It was cleansing and I felt completely well and revitalized when I finished it. You sound as if you have formulated a plan for the next pages of your life story. I am happy that I was able to open your eyes a bit further. I wish you well and ask you stay in touch. Let me know how you are faring. Gia


Diane Pieri Kos
Diane Pieri Kos
٠٢ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣

Beautiful essay that hits right to the heart. I often wonder why my mind and body cannot coordinate their abilities and desires. Mirrors are often out of the question. Life now seems like a blur and sometimes I wonder whether I have forgotten to live it. I miss you. Was hoping for that trip to Bologna we talked about. Taking life one day at a time and see where I land. God bless you, Gia.

Giacomino Nicolazzo
Giacomino Nicolazzo
٠٨ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣
الرد على

Buongiorno Diana! I have an answer for what you wonder about...your mind is the human representation of your soul. It is ageless, timeless and eternal. Your body is not! It is just a vehicle that moves you one place to another. And know this. It is never, never, ever too late to start living mia cara. Just do it and don't look back. Luv ya! Gia


٠١ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣

Dearest Gia, it is wonderful to hear your words reflecting my very own at this time in my life. It astonished me how you are able to put my very own thoughts into the most articulate and poignant words. I have missed you!

I don't look into the mirror anymore but I can't escape the mirror of my mind which is sometimes tormented by loss and past mistakes. Aging is a very sobering time of life which I am finding difficult to navigate.

I send prayers for your healing and improved health.

Margherita Sansone

Giacomino Nicolazzo
Giacomino Nicolazzo
٠٨ سبتمبر ٢٠٢٣
الرد على

I am delighted you enjoyed what I wrote and that it resonated with you. And I am grateful to be your thoughts and the recipient of your prayers. Time will tell. Enjoy every moment you have Margherita. Find joy in the good ones and lessons in the bad. Bless you my friend. Gia

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