The United Nations of you.

February 6, 2016 § 5 Comments

UN Flags

Ever notice you are more a confederacy than a single entity, a collection of divergent needs, ideas, and desires forced to collaborate due to proximity?

Example: It is a cold winter day. You don’t have gloves and you are holding a leash in one bare hand, the other is in your pocket. The hand in the pocket is comfortable, sleepy. It doesn’t want to trade places with the hand that is out in the cold.

Your brain has to mediate. Listen Lefty be fair. Righty’s freezing his knuckles off. Lefty doesn’t respond to reason, but eventually the brain issues an executive order. Lefty, get out of that pocket, now! Reluctantly, Lefty vacates and takes the leash.

The reports from your body are a chorus of individual voices.

Hey, this is your knee down here–the bad one, remember? Five miles? You gotta be kidding me.

The breeze the breeze! What a glorious day to be a face in the sun. Suck it up knee.

Then there are the constant disputes between body and brain. Body: I just want to sit in this chair and eat ice cream. Brain: Get out of that chair butter butt. We’re going for a run.

Our present and future selves display a similar autonomy. The you-of-now and the you-of-tomorrow lead separate lives. Sad to say, but often the you-of-now does not have the best interest of the you-of-tomorrow at heart, shoving the job at hand off on that other guy.

I’ll go on a diet tomorrow, call my mom tomorrow, learn to speak French tomorrow.

The you-of-now has great respect for that guy who is always just over the horizon. I can’t do it, but the one who is coming along tomorrow can. 

That bigger, better self of tomorrow never comes, but he’s a good excuse for why right now is not a good idea.

Now add time to the picture. The kid wearing the scout uniform, the man in the suit and tie sitting at a desk, the old man staring out the window? Which of these snapshots is you? Life is a flip book, each image true in its moment, each replaced with the next self.

Then there is the you of ideas and beliefs. It is possible to be bigoted and churchy, generous and greedy, cooperative and dictatorial, and to be both fervently.

We embrace, without question, contradictions that, if they were manifest in the material world would be spark and gasoline.

When it comes to ideas, the brain is the great justifier. Ask about contradictory beliefs and you will get an elaborate explanation, one that almost works, especially if it emotionally trips the wires of your own contradictory beliefs; we tend to ally with those with whom we share the same mutually exclusive beliefs.

Overfilled file cabinet

The brain’s biggest functions may be to create the illusion that it resides in a unique being that is a coherent single whole.

From body to beliefs there is a randomness to self. How much of a unified whole is a person, and how much is of us each a shouting match between conflicting interests, a haphazard collection of desires, dreams, and ideas stored in a single bulging file cabinet?

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