On the impossibility of knowing who we are.

I’m not really sure where the idea of stability and consistency of human character came from but I have a feeling that it’s more of a wishful thinking sorta thing rather than an indubitable fact. I mean, if we go back to basics and pull our gaze away from our puny little lives and look at the larger world around us we can identify that everything is in flux, easily enough. I mean, change is something that happens. Lets just accept that. I’m not saying whether its good or bad but it is there. It’s an ingredient of life.

Going back to basics, even the earliest of philosophers understood the variability of the sensorial world. Some may have thought that change was constant, others, like, good aul Heraclitus, accepted change and argued that we acknowledge that some change helps sustain and preserve things in a certain state. I’m not gonna go into the whole river philosophical theory thing but basically: same river, different water.

So back to change in relation to humans. So I guess, I can admit that there is something essentially stable at the core of our existence. I am who I am and people can recognise me as me because I have certain physical and psychological features which remain relatively unchanged. Yet, as we grow we undergo minor physical and psychological changes. We grow tall and mature, we continue to age and our features begin to blur. Our youth fades and we become frail. But, if we take an even more narrow look at ourselves then we can see that we go undergo minor changes to our personality on a daily basis depending on our moods.

We play with versions of ourselves and try preserve the ones which are accepted and rid ourselves of the habits that lead to even the most minor of social exclusions. Other people’s opinions matter. Thus, we spend life naturally growing and deliberately making changes to our body and mentality. Sometimes, these are conscious decisions but most of the time our personality is the result of a collection of knock on effects resulting from deliberate alterations.

So essentially, we try to understand ourselves and to a certain extent we succeed. However, I’m starting to think that our ignorance of ourselves is revealed when we begin a relationship with another human being. I guess, I’m talking about a romantic type of relationship where you try put forward the best version of yourself. But in attempting to intimately merge yourself with another you start to rediscover parts of yourself. Or rather re-evaluate our pre-existing notions of ourselves, our attitude, mentality and body. We take on another’s interpretation of ourselves and try to match it up our subjective understanding of our character. Example: B thinks A is funny. A likes and accepts this. Therefore, A is considered to have a good sense of humour by A ’cause B said so. More, or less.

I feel like we’re all very much like play-doe. We essentially have the same core and consistency but we have the ability to mold and change ourselves. But, others can change us too. Like the physical, social and cultural worlds have a major impact on our character. If these are drastically changed then we too undergo change. But funnily enough, if you stop and think about it, our desire to stop change and sustain a certain way of life helps the world around us change a little less. Or rather, it helps slow down the change to allow for a gradual acceptance of it.

So in life, we travel through different stages, changing slightly or drastically at different points. I guess, I think that it doesn’t matter that we’re inconsistent, unstable and changeable beings. But, when you get into a relationship and you want to be honest about who you are I think that it’s important that we try figure out who we are at this particular point in our lives. It may be that I’m not the person I was a few months ago and haven’t gotten around to realising it just yet.

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1999 vs 2013

I remember that when the millennium rolled around a few years back, everyone was freaking out. I didn’t really understand why back then because I was a kid and the arrival of the millennium simply implied the possibility that my alien baby may open its eyes as the clock struck 12. For those of you who are unfamiliar with alien babies, they were these weird little soft plastic-y toys that the kids were mad about circa 1999. Image Anyway, some kid on my road told me that the alien’s eyes would open at midnight and because I was naive and unrelentingly fascinated by such an occurrence, I believed her. So while my parents and their friends did the whole drunken countdown thing, I stared the shit outta that alien baby. Sadly, its eyes did not open and I ended up throwing it at the living room ceiling…where it got stuck.

Now for me, that’s about as meaningful as the New Years Eve of 1999 was. Meanwhile, my (somewhat) paranoid parents were literally whooping with joy ’cause they realised that the world was not in fact ending, as it had been rumoured in their social circle. Turns out 1999 was home to a retro version of the whole Mayan-calender-ending-equals-the-end-of-the-world malarkey we experienced last year. Though, I imagine it was a lot less stressful for them ’cause of the lack of access to thousands of internet forums of self-proclaimed experts who backed the whole 2012 inevitable apocalypse thing. Yet, I reckon the scale of relief was probably about the same.

That’s probably my most memorable New Years Eve. Before that, I never really realised that the start of a new year was a big deal. I still don’t really get it. I usually spend it at home, in my jammies, with my cats and get really uncomfortable when I’m on the receiving end of those New Years Eve calls and texts. I can never really muster up enough enthusiasm to make my reply of ‘yeah, you too’ sound genuine or sincere. I mean, I hope all my friends and family have a happy new year, but no more than I usually do. Also, you’re expected to hug people you don’t normally hug and I have a sort of lingering resentment towards any holiday which puts me in awkward social situations.

But I guess the one thing I defiantly like about the extravagant celebration of the 31st of December is that it reminds me to reflect on the last few months of my life. I haven’t done much really. Like, I graduated from college and entered the full time working world which I then promptly exited after spending two miserable months in the hotel industry and now I’m in the process of sorting my shit out. I guess I should be proud about passing my exams and writing a real research project and I kinda am. However, I’m much more proud of the broadening of my perspective. I’ve discovered the key to living my life well (or at least my interpretation of well). I’ve been trying to let go my judgmental perspective and come to value truly trying to understand others. It’s a lot easier to like life, people and things. I find it hard to hate anything but tend to feel a sort existential melancholy when I’m faced with those really unintelligible aspects of life. At the same time I’ve experienced these other moments that have shaken my very core, left me short of breath and trembling but also sort of tranquil. Moments of understanding are accompanied by a dawning of acceptance. Although, I have to say that my awareness of my place in the world isn’t exactly something which drives me in a certain direction. Rather, this feeling of just being and connected-ness has made me appreciate the more mundane moments of my life. Not all of the time, but at least 40% of the time. 

So anyway when 2014 rolled around with a, almost inaudible, bang I cheered, hugged my mam and then sat around wondering how long it was til I could get back to reading the rest of my book. 

What I’d really like is for you, the unlikely reader of this blog, to comment about something that you’ve learned that has really affected the way you life your life or understand the way of the world. 

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