Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who is myself?

"I find that the sensation of myself as an ego inside a bag of skin is really a hallucination. "
--Alan Watts

When I think of myself, what do I envision? Am I a brain; a well differentiated and organized neuro-plasmic ganglion which forms complex electrical currents that coordinate themselves into impulses with direction and purpose? Am I merely responding to chemical signals derived from external coercion? Is this brain the driver of a body receiving electrical impulses tuned so exquisitely there is no discernible differentiation between thought and action? Am I a physical being led by these stimulations, a form and function of survival and reproduction serving only to survive and reproduce? And why do I care about striving for self-betterment or if the Seahawks make the playoffs?

Maybe I think of myself as the invisible driver of some strange agreement between spirit and flesh. Am I the forged result of the energy of my physical, calculable universe co-existing with the energy of the non-physical, amorphous life energy? One connects me to my friend Matt in Japan though we only talk a couple times a year or gives me that weird sensation that makes me turn around just in time to see someone staring at me. The other allows me to type on this computer to earn a living and calculate dosing regimens or catch a football flying at me. Like a bicycle frame using carbon bonded to aluminum, am I two halves bonded together, only to one day split again? Which lasts longer? Which is more important?

Some refer to the balance between the two energies as "center" or a middle ground where the two are attended to equally. I personally believe that, like anything, moderation is a good goal, especially when dealing with our dichotomous self. Of course if we were able to wander out into the forest and abandon all need for physical presence we might allow the spirit self to completely rule our being. Conversely we could allow the physical presence to command our lives and shut out the non-physical, spirit energy completely. I believe this usually ends up in becoming some sort of clinical depression or addiction, right? So it doesn't look like either end of the spectrum works for those of us paying mortgages or obtaining advanced degrees or trying to win a playoff game.

Do you want to know the reeeeallly wacky part? The times I feel most "at home" within myself are the times when I am pushing myself physically, as in a triathlon or marathon for an extended period of exertion. I feel as though in order to truly make it through this sort of task and find my best performance, I must find a way to allow my non-physical energy drive my physical energy. The two are powerful when combined and it is not surprising that in times of extreme duress our physical, fleshy bodies can perform feats beyond scientific explanation. Our science can explain to a certain degree the physical word in which we live, but do these laws apply to our other, spiritual half?? I doubt it.

Well, that's enough for now. I am forced to remember a scene from a great war movie, "Full Metal Jacket."

Pogue Colonel: Marine, what is that button on your body armor?
Private Joker: A peace symbol, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Where'd you get it?
Private Joker: I don't remember, sir.
Pogue Colonel: What is that you've got written on your helmet?
Private Joker: "Born to Kill", sir.
Pogue Colonel: You write "Born to Kill" on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?
Private Joker: No, sir.
Pogue Colonel: You'd better get your head and your ass wired together, or I will take a giant shit on you.
Private Joker: Yes, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Now answer my question or you'll be standing tall before the man.
Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
Pogue Colonel: The what?
Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Whose side are you on, son?


mossygirl said...

My Self is a confused entity, trying to find meaning in meaninglessness, trying desperately to understand how sitting at a desk day in and day out, clicking away at keys and talking into a hunk of plastic improves the world for anyone else. I can string together an intelligent sounding monologue of corporate nothing-speak to explain exactly how what I do contributes to the "key initiatives" of the company and will directly impact our EBITDA, but "at the end of the day", when I drive home, I have to face the fact that I spent my day mostly IMing friends at work-- which I can nearly convince myself improved their life ("well, maybe just their day, but isn't that something?" I can hear myself justify)--making tea and coffee and wandering around aimlessly trying to remember which meaningless thing it was that was most urgent.

Somewhere, common knowledge has convinced us, there is evidence of my "work" saved electronically in cyberspace. All of this endless clicking and tapping away has created "something" that others have responded to, been confused by, infuriated by, saddened or disappointed by, expressed thoughts about, and has ostensibly accomplished something.

But nothing tangible has been created. No one will remember it, nothing monumental will ever come from it. But I had to do it. Why? So that more intangible payment will enter my intangible bank account so that I can go to, click away a bit more, grant them the right to take that intangible money from my intangible account and trust that sometime, some tangible pants will be delivered on my doorstep that will look good on my Boy.

Is it all in our heads? What is reality?

Aaron said...

Mmm, beer.