A recurring theme in my brain concerns the potential, or lack thereof, to truly understand one’s “real” personality.  That’s the one that lives in the core of the mind, the one uncluttered by years of acceding to the expectations of others, the one fresh and free of bending to the will of the world around us.  It’s the one that isn’t molded by what other people think or say, but by who we are.

What lies beneath that patina of time and experience enshrouding my behavior; does my behavior reflect who I am, or simply who I believe I am or who I think I should be?

The questions arise because I don’t think I know me.  I know only the person on the surface, the one who currently inhabits my body and my brain, but who may have been left there when the real me left, angry and disappointed that I didn’t insist on being me. And I suspect I’m not alone in that predicament. The fundamental question is this: what would I be like if I hadn’t absorbed the world around me, the world that told me who I should be, or should want to be?

There’s a book in this theme someplace, or maybe just a short story (or even a poem). It’s the story of a man who, after living a full six decades, comes to grips with the fact that he has been weak and incomplete and just afraid of life for his entire existence.  For him, carpe diem is an unachieveable dream, not a reality.

He doesn’t know how to come out of that sense of being afraid of life, being afraid of what’s ahead, feeling inadequate to satisfy himself or the people he loves or the people he wants to love him. He doesn’t know whether he ever really knew himself.  He only knows that he doesn’t know who he is now and he has no idea how to find out.

Good writing presents a problem and a solution.  I’m halfway there.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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