For as long as I can remember I’ve been looking for myself. You know, that fuzzy notion of a ‘me’ that seems to be experiencing something called ‘life’ on something called ‘planet Earth’ in something else called the ‘universe.’
Yet no matter how hard I look I can’t find that dude.
And if I’m honest, I don’t have a clue what life is or how I got here. I’ve tried and largely failed to get ‘my mind’ around the magnitude of the universe.
But then again, I don’t really know anything about anything.
This morning, chatting with my wife, I was reminded that when I hold her hand or stroke her leg, that cool, smooth sensory perception that I think of as skin-on-skin is actually an elaborate dance of electrons that – through an unimaginably complex and convoluted process – transmits some kind of intelligent signal from electron to nucleus to molecule to cells to neurons to conscious thought and all in a flash that says, “Skin.” And “I” don’t play a role in any of it.
And even while I’m marveling at the electron-skin connection my brain simultaneously is managing an equally unimaginable number of processes involving this body – tissue, bones, organs, hormones, glands, hearing, seeing, basic stabilization, etc. And all this while in the background the earth teems with billions upon billions of activities more or less invisible to me (‘nature’ is that tiny fraction we can in fact see) and beyond that the universe busies itself doing an impossible array of tasks that god probably can’t keep up with (that’s a joke – the god part).
I don’t get one bit of it.
To exist is a miracle. And we take it for granted. All of it.
Worse, we listen to these limited, habit-formed brains and announce all of our criticisms and praises for what is right or wrong with the world. Yet it never occurs to us that those thoughts aren’t ours. Or that we don’t have a clue who the supposed owner of those thoughts is.
Have you seen the I you claim to be? Do you know that entity? What does it look like? Where does it live (behind your eyes, maybe?). Next time you and I get together, introduce me to “the real you” because I’m dying to meet It.
The whole thing is an indescribable mystery, yet we pretend to have it all figured out, courtesy this conceptual language and the other thoughts jammed into our heads in this little piece of life’s theatre known as our family, neighborhood, city, state, nation, planet.
Admit it, you don’t know anything, do you? While you’re blabbing your thoughts about this or that, answer me how those words are actually formed? Or how I, the listener, am able to process those words into thought. And again, what is thought, exactly? Have you ever seen a thought? How much does a thought weigh?
Out of curiosity, where does the person suffering from dementia go?
An exercise: Look at the image to the right. Now start dropping the mental labels and concepts you and your world have assigned to it. Drop ‘rooster’ and ‘bird’ and all the colors and feathers and other materialist constructs. Momentarily let go of every single concept you have ever heard, learned or known about that thing to the right.
Now what is it? Really stare at it sans concepts and explain what it is.
Everything you know is conceptual. Kill all the concepts and what is left? Aren’t you, in fact, a concept?
It’s starting to become apparent that my lifelong journey to find ‘me’ has been an epic waste of time.