A grain of sand.

January 4, 2015 § 4 Comments

St. George Island beach.The self gets a lot of attention.

We encourage and dress it up.

We couple it with aggrandizing nouns: self-esteem, self-respect.

We cultivate a healthy and strong self-image.

When we are not cheering for the self or giving it a heap of atta-boys, we couple it with concepts that denigrate: self-loathing, selfish.

But whether lauding or demeaning, I wonder whether we are over-inflating the constant in the equation, the self.

How much does that imposing self distort our view of everything else?

Consider the self-referential pose of the arm holding the cell phone, taking a selfie of the owner of that same arm.

There is a circular logic to concentrating on the self, and that circle seems constricted and small.

Here is another self word we admire: selfless. It implies doing things for others, not self, but there is still an acute sense of the self doing the sacrificing, and sometimes even the hope that somewhere an unblinking watcher is recording those acts in order to reward the self for its sacrifice.

But let the self raise its eye level just a little and there is another self…and another…and another…and another.

And each of those selves is the absolute center of the universe.

That last statement is obviously ridiculous.

DSCF3801A single self is as insignificant as a grain of sand on a beach, one tiny jot in the repeat pattern on a stretch of wall paper.

But what if we looked at the self as something not so singular–or so isolated?

What if we saw self as inclusive, not the random result of our separate packaging?

What if our value, even our prospects for the future, were collective?

They are.

Our highest aspirations: social justice, world peace, and equality are collective.

Our most pressing problems: global climate change, disease and poverty are too.

But none of our collective hopes and dreams will be realized as long as we keep living that old joke:

“But enough about me…. Now tell me, what do you think of me?”

In this new year may the constantly-demanding self pipe down, and the distorting lens of it’s-all-about-me will fall away.

It is not about any one of us. It is about all of us, the greater self that is the sum of humankind.

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