The Elaborate Game
There is no me, and there is no you that is fixed and permanent.
Whatever we are changes depending on the people we are with, the places we visit and the experiences we have in the elaborate game going on around us.
But many of us don't see that.
Although I might take my existence as fixed – I am Larry Maguire, artist and writer from Dublin Ireland, for example – I also change both physically and psychically even as I sit here doing nothing.
Everything in my environment including people influence that often subtle or occasional dramatic change.
Even things I experienced in the past can influence it. However, past experiences are more likely to keep things the same and are often to my detriment.
When we are in it, when we are focused on the complex, kaleidoscopic mix of people and experiences, we can get lost.
And that's how it should be, but only for a short while.
We also need to find the time to come out of that, to remove ourselves from the stimulation of the world.
Because if we don't, we begin to believe in the surface level reality we have unconsciously created and the subsequent version of us we witness in our daily experience.
We think we are this or we are that.
We become defined by the job we do and the role we play in every walk of life.
Nothing else of us seems to exist beyond this surface level idea of self.
Getting Lost In The Elaborate Game
So if my personality continually changes, even subtly, and my mind and body changes from moment to moment too, then what am I?
I must be the change.
But the change is nothing that can be defined; it's not stationary. It's more like the wind.
People say; “be yourself”, whatever that might mean.
They expect it.
The see you and me as a this or that, but in their definition, they miss the essence of you, and they miss the essence of themselves too.
When someone defines you, you often have to live up to that definition otherwise they become disillusioned, disappointed or even angry with you.
Their formed ideas of who you are, become a vital element in the elaborate game of their life and their sense of self. They make these things dependant on you fulfilling that role.
They believe in the fiction, and so do you.
In my illusion of who you are I expect a certain standard, and often I will project onto you an elevated status. I can also degrade you to a level that helps me elevate myself.
This to and fro happens in relationships all the time and is the ebb and flow of psychic interaction.
It happens with those people we elevate to the status of celebrity for example, and when they fail to live up to that standard, we get on Twitter and abuse them.
The trouble for both parties occurs when the expectation becomes fixed, because as I said, whatever we are, we are not fixed.
We are constantly changing.
Now I am dependant on you, and you are dependant on me. But that dependence will inevitably set us up for a fall.
It is a mutually destructive relationship.
What Is The True Nature Of The Self?
The best I have come up with thus far is that you and I are the observation of ourselves in interaction with everything else.
The thing that changes is not separate from the overall change. It is perhaps accurate to say that it is a process of which we seem to be an element.
It is one happening, which we have the benefit and honour of observing and playing in.
However, the individual I seem to be is pretty convincing to me.
It feels real, and from the limited perspective our nervous system offers us, it is real. But I would suggest that it's naive to believe in that limited perspective.
There's more going on than our physical senses will allow us the knowledge of.
As the result of many hours staring out the window reflecting on these things, reading and so on, it appears to me that first and foremost I am something psychical.
I am of a non-physical substance.
The word “substance” is the wrong word, but words are all I have in the attempt at an explanation.
That something non-physical seeks to express itself in the physical. It means to know itself consciously.
But in this world of people and stuff, there are rules and laws.
That which seeks conscious expression is often utterly unacceptable to the conscious me and broader society too.
So I or it must find a way.
We often find this way through art, music and storytelling.
Art allows the unconscious mind a freer reign in this world and has the potential to create beautiful things, continually pushing the boundaries of society
That is if the immovable you and I that we have established can get out of its way.
Jacques Lacan, the French Psychoanalyst, suggested that the unconscious self can never really be known to the conscious self.
All language, art and music, in fact, all human interaction is the ever-expanding attempt to do so.
The Importance Of Finding Time Alone
Solitude for me is a vital component in nurturing a stable state of mind.
I crave the peace of my own company.
If several days pass and I have not had the opportunity to be alone, I begin to feel a withdrawal from stuff back towards that.
I have to get back.
Other people who believe me to be this or that, who, as I said above, expect a given performance from me, feel betrayed or offended.
I have the most significant disregard and contempt for their opinion.
And you should too, where it is relevant to you.
As is written in The Artist's Manifesto, solitude is a vital component for the healthy expression of the creative mind, and we must embrace it.
We must, as the creative introvert, make the necessary space.
After a while, finding time to be alone becomes more important than anything else including children, wives, husbands, work and friends.
To be constantly on-call to the demands of the noisy world and the expectations of others leave us depleted and turbulent in mind.
In this, we have nothing of value to offer anyone else.
So, therefore, the challenge for you and me is to find the time to be alone.
I appreciate that many people find this very difficult, even scary. But it is that simple and there is no other solution available.
Anything else just serves as further stimulation and distraction from the real work, which is in fact, no work at all.
All we need to do is get quiet.