Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Real Light

Until we lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves.

Henry Miller
Even though I have lived completely by myself for the last 22 years, I dearly wish I had a family. But I can't imagine any family that would put up with me. I would make too many demands on people. But without the touchstone of human interaction it is very difficult to know how many of those demands are the normal results of senior citizenship and how many are just bad habits I've developed over the years.

Being a solitary individual gives one the freedom to define oneself, up to a point. True I'm not defined by my family or anyone else around me. I read a lot of journals and I see people defining themselves by their families, by their diseases, treatments and results, by where they live and the homes they live in, by their jobs and professions, by their religious beliefs. And I wonder about that. Can any of those things really define a person. Do those things have any real meaning or are they just labels.

To understand ourselves is a formidable task, made all the more difficult when labels and habitual behavior are pasted on us. I think there is more than likely a fear of removing any of those labels and peering underneath. What if there really is nothing under there? What if those labels and definitions are only like the skins of the famous onion which has no center?

Well, here's some good news. A human being is not an onion, and you can quote me. There probably isn't any center underneath all the labels and definitions. But that's not where we live. A human being is an infinitely greater and more complicated creature than the one that's covered by biographies, news stories, letters, papers, post its, wardrobes, hair dos, skin, organs and bones. The one is a paper mache caricature, the other is a fascinating complex of unlabelable qualities, forces, abilities and ideas. It is an invisible creature with thoughts no one else ever hears,
images no one else ever sees, experiences no one else ever feels and "hopes that have no name" (Nietzsche). And it is incapable of being defined.

Some people would say that's a "soul" but that term itself defies interpretation. "Real being" is another term I've heard. "Inner man" is another. But all of those terms are just so many other labels, in my opinion. The fact is who we are is not definable by any spoken or written language.

So how do I find myself Henry? I can't give up eating, sleeping, bathing myself and all the doodles of my life, important, semi important, unimportant, necessities or self indulgences. No. But I can relinquish the idea that all those things are who I am and do it on a continual basis. And I can then focus on trying to find myself behind, above and away from them. I can search for the true man, the true spirit, the true center, that which makes me distinct, original, individual and connected by an invisible and unbreakable cord to all other creatures and the universe around us.

Such a task takes discipline, constancy and effort. It means developing a completely different mental habit. It also involves the expectation of discovery. It is the most important commitment one can make to oneself.

Lose the false marionette in order to find the true actor.

Winter question
(This is not a contest.)

Hold your breath, Spring is coming any minute

Given the resources and opportunity, what one thing do you want to do in 2010 that you've never done before.

You have the Winter to answer. Answers will be posted on the first day of Spring.
Only 23 responses so far.

DB - The Vagabond


Rose~* said...

I suppose that is why so many people keep sending those "answer 20 questions about yourself" to everyone that is on their email list - for the sake of finding out about that particular person. Of course it only works if the respondent is truthful.

Indigo said...

"Until we lose ourselves there is no hope of finding ourselves."

I honestly believe I live those sentiments. I'm a fine example of losing myself in order to find me. It's surprising how many people go through life having never found some worth in who they are and how they've lived. (Hugs)Indigo

Ben said...

Labels are one of the greatest obstacles to our having an authentic existence. We start off choosing a label to match what we are doing or thinking, and end up choosing what we do and think to match the label. Politics - think "conservative," "liberal," and any of those other tags that end up telling what we have to think instead of the other way around - is one easy example; you've pointed about many others. Another great post, DB.

What do I want to do in 2010? After reading your post I have to say...find myself.


Liz said...

When we lose ourselves let us not lose hope, faith or charity.
When we lose ourselves and hope let us not lose faith or charity.
When we lose ourselves, hope and faith let us not lose charity.
When we lose ourselves, faith, hope and charity we are indeed lost.

Mark and Elayne said...

As always an interesting read. I remember being asked as a child, what did I wish to be when I grew up. My answer: me. I like-no love me. All of those "labels" do not define me, but are part of what makes me Laini. Faith, family, hobbies, art, etc add richness and colour to my life and I in turn insert that colour, that favor back into the world. I have been a child in a family, head of a family, alone and now once again, part of a family as a wife and a faith community. I really like this part of my life the best.
We are as happy as we chose to be.
Blessings as always, beloved friend.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think that wondering how people would label me, I think the definition is still evolving.

Rose said...

I happen to be reading a book of "Quotes" this afternoon and I thought you may enjoy this one:

All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself. ~Ralph Ellison, "Battle Royal"

Hugs, Rose