This video is getting over a views a day. Why?
When we look at our past self, we find it a mystery. How have I changed? What has changed me? Are the changes good? I’d love to be able to tell my old self something that would help that self navigate the water’s I’ve been through.
This woman bravely boasts that she, unlike Jeremiah McDonald, has not lost touch with her self. She’s living her dreams, the same dreams she had when she was twelve. She doesn’t feel stifled. She feels quite “self-actualized”. The moral to the story, as she sees it is “Listen to the child that is within you. Don’t just do what you think you need to do. Do what you want to do and be your own truth. Be your twelve-year-old self.”
Talking to Myself
My violin teacher explained to me at the end of the school year. Next year you can either play with John Van Dam (my best friend in school who was an excellent violinist) or you can play in the lower class. The message was clear. PRACTICE!
So on our summer camping trip up at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds near Whitinsville I practiced my violin behind the tent.
I’m sure my mother had to remind me to practice. It was not fun leaving the swimming and the fishing to scratch out music on my violin. I felt some resentment and frustration, but I practiced.
Now looking back on this through almost 40 years part of me asks “who is that boy in the woods playing his violin?” I know it is me. But I know it also isn’t the me that I am today.
Obvious Things About Our Selves
We commonly look back through time and think “I was a different person”, but we also know it was still “me”.
We know that the decision we made shaped our lives and we know that the decisions made for us by parents and others shaped us too.
We know we are the product of our families of origin, our culture, the religion we received, the identities handed to us by our parents, by our friends, by our classmates, and the identities we embraced yet we somehow insist we are the masters of our selves and our fate.
At times to suggest we don’t know our own self seems absolute folly. If we know anything it is that we have a self, a life, a being. Everything else we know less well following Rene Descartes.
Then we do something and think “that wasn’t me” or someone else tells us that we need to get in touch with who we really are, as if they know better than we do, but sometimes they do.
People change jobs, change spouses, change religions, change habits, change countries, change clothing, change food, change friends, change almost everything and anything that can be changed in order to “go out and find their self”.
They might even adopt the language of McDonald’s critic by suggesting that they become “self-actualized”. That’s very strange. How did they become so divorced from their self?
Our selves are a world of familiar contradictions that we effortlessly manage and assume yet they are also strangers that have power over us at the very moment we don’t have power over our own selves.
We are many selves and one self. We are travelers through time that last only a moment. We think we belong to our own self but then we realize that our self is subject to all of the other selves in the universe around us in ways that are so powerful that our self that they possess, manipulate, distort or mirror can drive us to extinguish the host we identify with our self.
Gaining or Losing Your Self
Right after admonishing his followers to deny their psyches Jesus turns around and tells them that it counts for nothing to gain the whole world but lose their psyche, their self. In other words your psyche, your self is more valuable than everything else in the world, and many of us would agree.
It is the only thing we have. When Job says “naked I came into this world and naked I will depart” he wasn’t talking about clothing. We are our selves. The selves we know, and the selves we don’t.