My son is really into Dungeons & Dragons these days, and I was recently inspired to look back through some of my old notebooks from grade school and junior high in an attempt to find my old D&D notes, sketches, and dungeon diagrams to share with him. What I found instead was an old writing assignment from 5th grade, when I was about my son's age. It was entitled "Who I Am" and apparently I was to list all of the things I felt with myself in an "I am a...." format.
The list was long, and includes things that no longer apply (though I am still a guinea pig owner and lover and I do still like to cook pumpkin pie). The thing that struck me most, though, was the continuity of purpose and personality in looking 30 years back at this younger me. I identified myself as a cyclist, a gardener, a swimmer, an environmentalist, and a feminist. On my list was outdoorsperson, hiker, lover of animals, and many entries linking me to family, friends, and community. I listed myself as a Democrat and an American. I also found other telling evidence, copies of letters to then-president Jimmy Carter, urging him to adopt Oregon's bottle bill nationally. A poster I drew for a local contest, sponsored by the utility company, my entry was a drawing of a solar house.
Though I have come through much in the intervening years, it's comforting to see how many of my core values are still such a large part of my life today. The things that mattered to me then, matter now. Community, environment, conservation, family, outdoor activities, political activism. Continuity.