Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Am Not An Onion

To know yourself you must first remove the mask of who you think you are.

Dana Bate
You've probably heard the metaphor of the onion. I think it first appears in Ibsen's play "Peer Gynt." Trying to find yourself is like peeling an onion. You take off one layer, one skin after another, trying to reach the core of the onion only to find there is no core, no seed, no center. It's all skin.

All the people in my fanily were much older than I and they all had opinions about me and criticisms of my behavior and my attitudes. In school I had some very good teachers, but I also had some bad ones, and one of the worst was an English teacher who was fond of putting labels on people. He would decide who was a pessimist, an optimist, an idealist, a realist, and so on, and that's the way he would think of his students and treat us for the rest of the year, judging whatever we wrote on the basis of his labels.

A weak willed and uncertain person is liable to believe some of the criticisms and labels from those who underestimate or overestimate him. That's a big mistake. But what is even worse is to over compensate for it by taking on the pretense of someone who is the opposite of what one has been labeled as. In either case one is simply putting on a layer of skin, a mask. And what is even more dangerous is, having donned that mask, to start believing it to be one's real self.

If one keeps that up for many years one finds himself covered with as many masks and an onion has skins. Where is the real person? Let's hope it's not lost.

The answer relates back to my entry on February 22, "Spring Cleaning." Is what I think really what I think? Is what I believe really what I believe? If I painted a self portrait would it resemble me? Ort would it look like what I think I look like, what I want to look like? Would it resemble someone else?

To challenge every thought, belief, habitual behavior, inner vision of ourselves is peeling off the skins, the masks, to find the real person we are. Unlike the onion there is a core, a seed, from which we grow into the unique, beautiful and interesting person we are. But it is invisible. The true person is not someone who can be described by any English teacher or any one else, including ourselves. The true nature of a creature as complicated as a human being is something that defies labels. And when all the masks are discarded what's left is an amazing, individual and original person.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest)

What was the most significant event that happened in 2010?

Only 7 responses so far. Winter is almost over. What's your answer?



Liz said...

The seed creates life,
Life protects itself in order to survive,
The onion builds walls in order that each layer may survive.

We build walls,
We protect ourselves in order to survive,
And build the layers of the onion.

The seed creates life,
Life must protect itself in order to survive,
Communication is vital for survival.

The heart breaks through the layers,
With the strength of curiosity,
To flower and create seed…

Arlene (AJ) said...

I know I'll never be able to please everyone, would be nice, but just not possible to be able to do that, so I do the best I can for me and believe and don't really let anyone judge me as I try not to judge anyone else. I am what I am and like to believe that most folks find me interesting, caring and a good person to know for the most part.

pacifica62 said...

Psychotherapy helps to peel away all the layers of the onion. Many times we do not even know they are there and the layers have to be peeled away in some sort of organized sequence. Take off one layer and then you will more closely see the issues underneath. It can be a wonderful process and one that leaves a person feeling free and amazing.