Only Ideas

I have always considered myself somewhat ‘bohemian.’ But my unorthodox core, for virtually all my life until this very moment, has remained hidden beneath a shell, a cover designed to appear conventional.

Perhaps that’s a story I tell myself, though. It may be that I’ve only wished I were the rebellious iconoclast but, instead, behave as the nervous conformist I may have been from the start. It’s hard to know. It’s hard to know because I do not know what or who I am. I do not know whether I am narcissist or a misanthrope, an egotist or an ascetic. My view of the world is simply a reflection of the way others react to me; does that make me artificial? Am I alone in wondering whether I shape the world around me or the world around me shapes me? Or are there others? Are we all simply actors? Is the world really a stage? Do we behave and believe the way we do to satisfy our understanding of others’ expectations of us? If we were capable of stripping away those expectations, what would be left of us?

I remember wondering, when I was in my twenties, how my thoughts might have evolved had I developed and matured outside the sphere of face-to-face human influence. I wondered how my personality might have evolved, were the only external forces to which I had been exposed just information from books that I, alone, had to interpret and judge. My education in sociology and psychology and the liberal arts in general never satisfactorily answered my questions. Nor has anything since. I still wonder who I am, the real me. What do I believe? Why do I or don’t I believe something else? How would I treat people up and down the socio-economic ladder had I not been exposed to influences that molded who I am today?

These are the questions of a teenager still grappling with his identity, not the questions of a grown man who, ostensibly, has matured and should by now understand the world and his place in it. Am I unique in having failed to attain that level of understanding? Many days I think I am, indeed, among the unfortunate few who never found his place in the world and who, quite possibly, has no place in it. This is not a plaintive cry for understanding; it’s just my assessment of today’s reality for me. I don’t belong to any group, not really. Too many of my peculiarities disqualify me for membership in most groups, even those to which I might wish to belong.

This stream-of-consciousness post is going nowhere fast. I think it’s time to end it. My thoughts are only ideas. Nothing of substance, just disturbances caused by neural transmissions and the occasional misfire.

About John Swinburn

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