Friday, November 19, 2010

"I" or The Persistence of Memory

We pay a lot of attention to our memory. As we navigate through life, we access it frequently to figure out what we think about something. Or even, to determine what something is. Or, why?

We construct "I" from our memory. Not from facts, if there are any such things, but from an ever changing view of how we think it went down. Someone says, "who are you" and the wheels start turning. Let's see, I was an Eagle Scout, and I helped that woman who was drowning, and I went to Mid-Good U, and and and... That's "I." That's what, according to my 4-year old grandson, was constructed at the moment of conception. The delusion I carry around is that "I" that was intact from my beginning. And now "I" continue to live its life.

Imagine if my brain is switched with another person's. Who would "I" be then? I guess it would depend on who remembered what.

But not so fast. Memory includes what I've done and how I felt about that (yet invisibly stitched together). So I stepped on a nut and cracked it, perhaps curtailing its possibility to become a tree someday. I might just remember randomly crushing a nut... or I might remember crushing the nut... and feeling terrible about it. Then I might go to a psychoanalyst and pay $10000 to feel better about stepping on the nut. That would be a changed "I." Wouldn't it? Or maybe just an evolved "I."

When I retired, I wanted to awake one morning fresh. As a new "I." I wanted to face life and see what "I" might do, not based on any preconception or plan, but fresh. Today is a new day.

I haven't been able to do this. The baggage continues. As well, the memory says, you promised so and so you'd do this. Or, my memory says, "when you do that (or don't do that) you don't feel good about yourself." Goofy?

3 comments:

Kate Freeman said...

I am the being sitting before the glow of the monitor reading your thoughts on i-ness.

Anonymous said...

I have crushed many nuts, am I a monster who has destroyed a possible forest? Sometimes you can't see the trees because of the forest. H.

Kim Mosley said...

I think it often is in the intention. If you step on the nut with the intention of someone chainsawing down redwoods... then you are an evil monster. But if you do it because you like the sound of the nuts cracking, you are not. You're just a little unenlightened (not realizing the consequences of your actions).