Author, entrepreneur, leader, athlete and retired career executive.
“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
I don't remember precisely when it began. I couldn't have been more than a pre-schooler. The unmistakable notion that there was something I felt in the way I experienced "me" that was different from the me you said you were, than the "you", you said I was.
I recognized that being in my own mind, in my own body, felt unique and separate from what everyone else was professing their "me-ness" to be. Obviously, I knew physically that in my body I was an individual person, part of the human race, that we were all alike, etc., but what I'm saying is that I understood fundamentally that my experience was uniquely different. One of my older brothers would joke with me that no, I was "you" and he was "me", but I knew better. I remember asking myself, did he feel the same separateness, the same individualized from-me-to-others point of view that I felt?
At some point, I had nightmares, where I would wake up calling for my Mom or Dad. A story is told where one of them came in and I screamed louder, thinking he or she was some kind of monster (this is where my actual memory merges with the story that has been told to me by my family; although that part doesn't matter to the thought cloud I'm describing). The dreams had to do with being observed by other beings, as if I were separate and different from others, and on display, much like the character on The Truman Show. I was astounded when that movie came out, by the way, since that resembled the types of dreams I would have - where everyone was watching me, observing my movements, laughing at me or in some manner making me feel embarrassed. I know this is related to my being the youngest of four boys, since my reality was a little bit like that - since I was surrounded by family who thought whatever I did or said was cute, silly, or whatever. Birth order stuff.
But what of this sense of you vs. me? That I am a unique entity, capable of making my own choices, able to discern meaning both independently and inter-dependently with others. That at some point I will be in this present body no more, and you will no longer be in yours.
I'm not making a religious or belief-centered discourse here - there are far too many people trying to spoon-feed those to us. This is about looking inward and understanding my individually unique life experience, connecting it with yours, and seeing if you have thoughts and observations of a like nature.
Breathe with me.
“Perhaps the most terrible (or wonderful) thing that can happen to an imaginative youth, aside from the curse (or blessing) of imagination itself, is to be exposed without preparation to the life outside his or her own sphere - the sudden revelation that there is a there out there.” ~ Tom Robbins
Our core nature
You and I exist on parallel journeys. I assume what you see as “red” is the same as what I see as “red”, though whether it is or isn't doesn't really matter. As long as our inter-dependency on our perception of “red” patterns itself out in a way that gets you where you want to go, and me where I want to go, all’s well.
This may not seem like an important discussion. The truly important issues are seldom obvious on their face. The fact that I experienced thoughts of uniqueness at an early age just reminds me that a knowledge of this understanding is inherent; each of us is born with it. As life goes on and we learn how to cohabitate in this world with others, we learn to adapt, to compromise, to redefine ourselves and our roles as interdependent beings through our work, our relationships, families, etc. But at core, we are uniquely thinking, creating, discerning individuals who have the ability to exist and make choices all by ourselves. We know this. Yet so many of us surrender to a common will, to accommodate others, to show off to others, or for a myriad of other reasons.
While necessary to accept the need for interdependence (I mean if we all got to define what stopping at a red light meant existentially, we'd all crash into each other!), I think it's important for each of us to sit quietly and realize our me-ness, feel what is real and meaningful to us, and act on the core nature of our being. I think the highest qualities of human resilience and love are found there.
“It's enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.” ~ Gabriel García Márquez
The ego battle
“Life begins on the other side of despair.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre
I find it interesting how we as individuals define ourselves. We identify with things that we think have value; we impose our views, our objectives on the world, and get frustrated whenever things don't go our way. Of course, correlated with that is that we get frustrated when we feel the energy of someone else trying to impose their will on us, so we engage in a battle, which exhausts both our energy and ours, and bears no fruit whatsoever.
In my observation, the world doesn't want to remember you. I know that sounds harsh, but when you think about it, who from history is remembered? Very few people. And when they are, it is seldom because they wanted to be remembered. A person's legacy is largely outside their control, because it is defined by others. Which means, we identify with a thing - pushing our agenda forward - that seldom bears fruit.
So why do we do it? We believe bad information. We identify with what we do and who we think we are. We believe that touchy little fucker called ego is actually us, when it's not. It's that bully who wants to intimidate us and try to make us do things that are not good for us, or for anyone, for that matter.
Who I am is undefinable. I presume so with you, but I am not you. My experience here could be completely unique, because it's all I truly know. Perhaps you are experiencing the same unique understanding of your "me", your true nature, as I do.
So here's the issue: I think my true "me" and your true "me" needs to be listened to, accessed for answers, and respected as the true source of discernment, perspective and decision-making. Anything that gets you "hooked" with a visceral reaction of anger, hate, pride or selfishness is ego talking. Not you. It's external BS infecting reality, driven by bad information.
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” ~ Lao Tzu
I think, therefore ...
“To be, or not to be: that is the question.." ~ William Shakespeare
There is a beauty and perfection in the wonderment of existence that is our life experience right now. Last night, the wind and rain slashed through the night air, slapping against the windows, the house creaking and shuttering from its force. Here in the morning, the pelting has stopped and the clouds just parted, allowing the sun to peek through and illuminate the landscape with all of its sparkling brilliance – rippling river water churning, while swarms of birds dance in swirling patterns against the cloudy sky. I feel the warmth of the fire beside me, the elegance of a Chopin piano concerto fluttering through the radio.
Descartes said “I think, therefore I am.” I imagine, and ponder. I assimilate and discern.
Does it mean anything? Is there a unique aspect to my knowledge of self, or are we just all just jellyfish pulsating our fragile bodies through the water in search for sustenance?
We live in moments, each of us. Wanting, striving, living and breathing.
Me and you. You and me.
We smile. We hurt. We love. We cry. We live.
We are here now. Only for awhile, and yet forever.
The world isn’t changing.
I am. You are.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl
Gregory S Williams (author) from California on December 15, 2012:
You're funny, Klara. Of course, with bipolar disorder they don't have any less of the ego issues, in fact, much of their experience is a challenge in tolerating their own mania - their own "affect", which is more of a chemical imbalance, hence the lithium.
But we digress...
Eckhart Tolle talks of this other self that observes ourselves, and through which we make judgments and observations about our affect - that thing we call "ourselves". He calls this the "pain-body", and I could go on about the pain-body and how it works in relation to ego. In this hub, however, like in most of my others, I try to just go with my own unadulturated thought, rather than parroting some spiritual or psychological teacher. If I were truly trying to make a stronger point, I'd probably co-sign one of those experts to create more robust (and money-generating) hubs!
Thanks - as always - for your wise and insightful words.
klarawieck on December 13, 2012:
Over the years I've learned to embrace my ego as a necessary part of my human experience. Yes, my ego tends to focus on the "me" that happens to be nothing but a superficial layer of who I truly am. But that superficial layer exists for a reason. The more we try to fight it, the more we lose sight of our individual mission. It helps to notice when ego is talking, reacting, and defending its pressumed rightful place.
And of course, you don't have to worry about any of this if you're bipolar. Then you always have another "me" to blame! Love my bipolar friends... and I'm not joking when I say this. They are awesome!
What an awesome hub this was! A lot to think about. :-)
Gregory S Williams (author) from California on December 10, 2012:
Thanks Gypsy - except for the jellyfish, those are my photos from various trips!
cheaptrick - that's an interesting analogy, and I love analogies. I've come to this point in life where I know I don't have all the answers, but am willing to surrender to just offering my perspective and letting it float out there to see if it has value elsewhere. I'm pleased it has resonated with you.
I sincerely appreciate the positive validation this thought stream has created...
cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on December 08, 2012:
Please allow me to offer an eccentric analogy as illustration of purpose.The primary purpose of electrical wire is to conduct electricity.The greater the voltage and amperage,the greater the illumination.Just so,the primary purpose of human beings is to conduct consciousness.The greater the flow and purity,the greater the awareness produced and the deeper our understanding goes.I believe the goal to be perfect balance[something I hope to achieve one day]of perception,which grants us a view of independent reality...something we get only glimpses of in daily life
Those who understand this hub will de edified.Those who do not will have the seed of conscious growth planted"One man plants,another man waters".Very well done
Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on December 08, 2012:
Voted up and interesting. It is like taking a journey seeking oneself. We sometimes pick up a lot of traits and characteristics from other and get confused as to who we really are. Thanks for sharing this fascinating and thought provoking read. Super images. Passing this on.
Gregory S Williams (author) from California on December 07, 2012:
Wow - I didn't expect so many thoughtful responses to this. It's funny, I watched Terrance Malick's The Tree of Life the other day, and it's pretty ethereal. I liked it - for the most part - it just wasn't what I was expecting. The reviews said he needed to be "tethered" some, because he goes onto these thought streams, comparing our consciousness with the creation of the Earth, passage of time, etc.
So I was thinking that's probably what I did with this hub. 99% of the time, I'm working with hundreds of people managing a major function and navigating through the vast morass of human behavior, stretched through meeting after meeting and dramatic problem after another. So going deep is like stretching to me - going deeper into the pattern of my consciousness.
What surprises me is that it does resonate with some people. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but I am anyway.
Thank you so much, Nellieanna, Dad, Shiningirisheyes and Deborah - you are wonderful souls and I'm with you - you're not out there. You're in here (me, pointing to my chest). I appreciate the opportunity to connect with you at this level. Have a beautiful day, honoring those who lived through Pearl Harbor Day as well as remember the impact of it on so many lives.
Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 07, 2012:
wow what a hub.. your mind the way you think is so deep .. and I can relate.. the detachment thing makes us feel like out of body experiences sometimes.. anyway me for sure.. the nightmares have been terrible.. throughout my life. this does give me a lot to think about.
Many blessings to you
very good hub
Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on December 07, 2012:
Gerg - I missed that glorious deep mind of yours. I can relate quite well to the many inner thoughts rolling around in your existence. My friends and family often say "there she goes again, off into that land of though all her own" when, in reality I am subconsciously taking the time to really examine the process around me. Most times, this happens before I know I am doing it. I have often felt "detached" by others. To describe it would be feeling alone in a room full of people I know. But not in a negative way, wondering if any of them wonder? Wondering what life blueprints we have already accomplished before we stepped into the blue print? Wondering if I chose this blueprint and strongly thinking I might have.
Maybe my thoughts are too out-there and too hard to explain but your sentimental are very relate-able to me.
Jackwms on December 07, 2012:
This is good Greg. Yes, I was there and remember the "night terrors" with the screaming, etc. Your mom and I worried about it, and even took you to a doctor. We were informed it was quite common and was not unusual. I think this happened 3 or 4 times, then never again. At least once, you had a slight fever beforehand.
The me-ness took some time for me to shake out as a youngster and, probably, did for most of us. I doubt many of us see ourselves as others see us. Many years ago, I heard someone say that we should "play to our stereotypes". I didn't know what my stereotype was, but have learned a bit over the years through feedback from others. I always wanted to be funny, witty, a joker, but was constantly told I was extremely serious. So, that didn't work. I found that playing to the serious side provided benefits.
Anyway, a lot to think about here.
Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on December 07, 2012:
You're so exactly right about every part of this, Greg, that it's spooky. In your own unique way and from your own unique experience, you've touched upon almost every basic realization I've experienced and attempted to express in my own way.
I also am the youngest (by 10, 12 & 14 years) of 4 siblings, and I agree that it gives one a unique perspective as one is trying to figure out who one is. Enlightenment comes when one stops trying to do it from THEIR perspective & realized that oneself - I, me, myself - has not only separate being, but "as good as or better" as the term goes in manufacturing. THEY never 'got it'. haha.
When one does understand one's own uniqueness, then it's simpler to easily grant others, theirs, without attempting to define, alter, or otherwise interfere with it. I remember a book title along these lines, "I'm OK, You're OK".
I've referred to the 'me-ness' as 'being and becoming', & as 'subjective reality'. One can give others, theirs, even when it conflicts with 'mine' - and I've referred to that as being 'valid'. It's valid for them, whether or not it's universal truth or 'my' perception of truth. It resolves so many conflicts to realize that. Probably the most difficult interaction is that in which one's own validity is scorned, ignored or discredited. Even then, though, one can see it as what is then valid for the other - - and steer clear of clashes with him/her. :-)
Anyway - you've really inspired and stimulated me this morning and it feel good!
Great hub -- deserves to be read, reread and passed along. You've explained it all so succinctly! Anyone reading it should understand it exactly if he/she has a concept of being self and recognizes what a healthy, actuated thing that is. (Gets my serious votes across the board.)