Comments to yesterday’s post brought me to an insight. The ways I see myself, alone and in relation to others, is informed by early childhood experiences. Over the years I’ve tried to shape-shift by means of schooling, therapy, travels, relationships, spiritual practice, volunteering, etc. And all along this belief — imprinted on the psyche — that much was wrong with me and that effort and luck might make a better person of me.
The German philosopher Schopenhauer (1788-1860) writes: “Everyone believes himself to be perfectly free, even in his individual actions, and thinks that at every moment he can commence another manner of life. … But through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity, that in spite of all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning of his life to the end of it, he must carry out the very character which he himself condemns …” (Schopenhauer, A. . The wisdom of life. Dover edition 2004, p. 147).
That may be so, Herr Professor, except for the condemn part! Turns out that I have the freedom to accept all that has happened, all I have done or left undone, and all that I cherish and detest. Years ago, one teacher told me to “welcome everything and to push away nothing,” and another that “you’re not an improvement project.” What’s beginning to emerge is a view of myself as a good person — not good as in “as compared to” or “good enough, considering …” but as an innately blameless, ethical, and worthy being.
Not a bad way to start a Thursday, eh?