I’ve been doing some personal writing lately. Not personal in a “dear diary” way, but writing down ideas and areas to explore further while never completely anything worth posting. In the middle of all these links and scraps is a short rant.
It’s probably the result of thinking of yourself the way I think of myself. Not that I diminish myself or think little of my abilities, but I think we all like to have a strong sense of who we are inside. Something I talk about a lot, and something I see other people write and talk about. And it’s something I lack. Not only lack, but don’t think exists. I have come to see the belief of a true self as a cover for mistakes and a safety blanket for tragedy. When someone fails a test and comforts his/herself by saying “I know I’m smart…” to feel okay about the grade. Or when someone lies and says, “But really, deep down, I’m an honest person.” I think that person is in fact a failure and a liar (but plenty more at the same time). Resorting to the “deep down” core self is a way to not be a liar or a failure even if you lie and fail. And only see our better traits as our true traits. Sort of like the “no true Scotsman” fallacy turned on ourselves. I don’t know if it’s that we simply want to see ourselves as good people even when we aren’t or if it’s because it’s easier to think about ourselves in that way rather than the much more complex reality that we are all contradictions. As Whitman said, “I contain multitudes,” but it’s very hard to keep track of those multitudes compared to a handful of “true” characteristics. Or maybe it’s both. Or neither, and I’m an idiot.
So the following is from the middle of all my notes and not well thought out or well written.
A lot of ideas are shots to my ego. I’m not 100% decided on much (which is another shot to the ego) and I think that’s why it’s so difficult at the moment. Once I become comfortable with the implications of the thoughts I’m pursuing then I might feel a little better. The concept of a self may not seem to important. And I mean, maybe egos are terrible. Maybe they make us spend too much time thinking about our own lives. Maybe they focus our attention on us too much instead of the world at large. I think that may be true, but almost without fail, we all have egos. Removing a block from that pile is like erasing a bit of the story of you. What I appear to be moving toward is deleting the story completely. Trashing it and emptying my mental “recycle bin” so that it’s not even a question anymore. I’ve read that some people have been able to not think about themselves as a self, but as a bundle or result of incalculable complexity. Maybe I’ll get there some day. But right now I’m tearing down what I used, and many people use, to build myself up.
If I don’t think there is a core “me” then what am I? Where is my security? When things get rough where do I turn for comfort and reassurance? Many of us turn to the idea that we know, deep down, who we are and what we are made of. But I reject the idea that any of that exists. So what do I have?