There’s an ancient Celtic poem called The Song of Amergin about a druid who arrives on the coast of Ireland. What’s unique about the poem is that most of its lines start with the words “I am,” followed by some name or detail. For instance:
These are not the arrogant boasts of a chest-thumping bard. The poem is written to show that man cannot be reduced to one idea alone. Each of the names Amergin gives himself represents an aspect of his nature: a stag for strength, the sea for depth, a boar for coarseness, and so on. The noble and roguish, the ugly and beautiful, the public and private, are all represented by the names we wear.
The Song of Amergin teaches us a lesson usually learned in old age: we live in contradiction. Contained inside each of us is not one easily defined self. We cannot be summarized in a 200-character social media bio. As Walt Whitman knew, we contain multitudes. We are a flesh-and-bone paradox.
This existential fact does not stop being true when we walk into the office. We do not stop being complicated just because we wear a suit and carry business cards. Our working days are as paradoxically wrapped as our every day.