What if you were possessed?
What if one day you suddenly had an awakening that you weren’t the person you thought you are? Suppose that you found out that your thoughts and feelings were being controlled or manipulated from a source other than yourself? And that all these years you didn’t know about it? You now wake up to a new reality that something is different for this realisation.
You wonder “Who am I?” – “What would I have become if I had my own way?” – “What religious or spiritual beliefs would I have had?” – “How different would my life have been if I had had full control of it?” – “What job would I be doing?” – “Would I have been happier?” – “What sort of life-partner would I have chosen?” – “Where would I be living now?” – “What sort of food or music would I like?” -“How different or similar would I see myself and the world around me?”. What would you do with this new found realisation? How would you feel? Would you change anything or be willing to change anything? How would you start to think or get on with directing a new existence in relation to the people and the world about you? Where would you start? Or perhaps you may just think, “I’m happy the way things are – I’m at peace with myself, so let it be. I couldn’t care less about how programmed I am! I can’t do anything about it anyway and I don’t like thinking so hard about stuff.”
By the way – this post is not directed at ‘a’ particular individual. If you who reads this happen to find that it falls in your garden then fine. If you want to think about it more, fine. If not, move on without further delay. I really don’t wish to waste anybody’s time. My time is my own to spend in writing this. I spend this time for my exploration of ‘me’. If it stimulates others to think – that’s fine – if not, that’s also fine.
In this post I do not go into high powered psychological concepts related to Freud and a bunch of other jokers, as I see them. I clear away all that psychobabble and keep it simple for my self-understanding.
‘Why this post?‘- you may be wondering? I guess that at a late stage in life, I have been wondering more if life could have been different. I’m more aware of myself in relation to my unique past: my upbringing, my education, my original and new found cultures, my tastes in food or music, my choice of movies, my thought patterns, my emotional expressions, my spiritual and other cherished ideas about ‘existence’, how I interact or don’t with others, my tolerances, my emotions, my drives, my command of a particular language etc – the list is probably 10 pages worth. I shouldn’t bore you. This awareness grows year on year – and so the questions in my mind about “Who am I? What am I? What have I become in this world?” (among others) grow even bigger, moreso in my pensive moments. All this has led me to contemplate, to what extent I am ‘possessed’ by the past in my present state of existence. Am I seeing the world with my own eyes, or to what extent do I see the world through lenses shaped ‘for me’. Is my mind ‘me’ or is all that some ‘other me’ shaped by force and circumstance? Are my current thinking patterns really mine? What if I was born and grown up in the Middle East or North Korea – how different would I be today?
In this analysis of self I refer to four aspects of me:
- Early me
- Middle me
- Outer me
- Present me (which encompasses all of the above)
Everybody is different – so they say. Each person knows that s/he is different from another person. People often say that they are different because of their total life experiences – and that’s fine because surely no two people could be expected to have entirely or nearly identical life experiences. All of the questions and things I wonder about above are in some way due to the sum total of my experiences and interactions with the world. I’m thinking of it as a thick woven rope. All the strands comprise me. Some strands are buried very deep and others at the outer surfaces may stick out or are frayed. I’m just using that analogy because it seems useful at this time. But I can use other analogies at other times.
But I didn’t actually know how ‘early me’ was woven together. I mean I didn’t have a choice in it – though I can remember some of what happened. I didn’t actually know ‘early me’ in the way I discover today. I only discover ‘early me’ on very deep reflection into my unique past. Who is this ‘early me’? ‘Early me’ is still part of me – I cannot deny it – nor can I suddenly eject ‘early me’ from ‘me’. To what extent did I contribute to how the strands of the rope were woven? The shocking answer for me – is that I hardly had much to do with it early in my life. In the early days my parents, teachers and role-models – the books I read or the movies I watched – all did much of the weaving of the strands of the rope. I wasn’t aware of the process back then. But now I see it with greater clarity. Of course, as time went on into the middle years, I will have thought that I was self-directed. I’m not so sure about that anymore. If ‘early me’ is me – as I think it is the case – and ‘early me’ has orchestrated the development of the present me – and still orchestrates some of my life, then I reckon that ‘early me’ is very important.
I avoid entirely genetics and genes etc because I don’t have access to my personal genetic code and even if I did, I couldn’t work out which genes were doing what.
[Diagram here is clickable for a larger view]
In later years those acquired or embedded early core values and principles, took on a life of their own. In major ways they orchestrated my interests, my career choices and my overall development (to put all that in a tight nutshell). I refer to that as ‘middle me’. But for sure the way the world turned also shaped where I would go, what I would do – the choices that were available to me to act on. The outcome I live today therefore – broadly speaking – must have been an interaction between ‘early me’ and options in the world.
Outer me is who I appear to be to the world. They can’t see the insides of me. However, ‘outer’ me, can look in on ‘early me’ and wonder ‘who’s that guy – does he still shape or orchestrate things?’. The answer that comes up is ‘YES’.
This has two faces. One that I can better see and the other that the world sees.
I alone better see ‘early me’ and ‘middle me’.
Final observations and questions
I am all of me. There may be different or more me’s – but I’m trying to break this down to it’s simplest form. I am not making an assertion that all of this is right – and as usual I require no approval on any of this.
Some things emerge. The ‘present me’ of today (in totality) has actually been orchestrated by events that shaped early me. In effect ‘early me’ has had perhaps a huge and unquantifiable influence on who I am. Of course, such an effect will vary from person to person. I some ways I am still possessed by ‘early me’ and whatever parts of me that have been influenced to take shape. I do not discount the effects of the world on ‘middle’ and ‘outer me’.
Keeping this as simple as possible I’m more concerned here with all that possesses me. There is something in me from a very early age that has been responsible for my thought patterns, my thinking, my everything. That something in ‘early me’, I had little choice about. It’s as if there is a part of me that seems so strange – so different – and possibly controlling me in ways I may not be fully aware of. If it still possesses larger parts of me I ought to know about it.
To what extent can I change ‘middle’ and ‘outer me’ by self-direction, instead of the two being directed by programmes inserted into me without choice, which has for the most part of my life orchestrated my being? How do I gauge any influence of ‘early me’ over my other me’s today? That is the challenge – the ultimate challenge. It’s a path of discovery – I’m off to discover.