Saturday, September 26, 2015

Two by Two, Eh? (#2 of 3)

Two-dimensional thinking persists with dichotomies. He and She; us and they; we and them; this and that. Distinctions persist. It is as though one is in one’s own vehicle, attendant (despite varying degrees of distractions) to the rules of the road. We accept the traffic patterns of others, yet at times are easily able to call out another’s mistakes en-route. At worst, road rage; judging; vitriol; aggression; envy; and distrust can amplify our sense of ‘me’ and ‘another’. If only no one else bothered me! Idiots! Fools!

How does little Jack or Sean or Sally or Meisie not identify with an ‘I’ in the culture into which he or she is born? Lessons create an environment of ‘things’ distinct from the self; persons distinct from the self; people distinctly different the further afield one ventures. And like and dislike; ‘love’ and even ‘hate’ set naturally in. “I love it!” we’ll exclaim over a taste. We arm ourselves with lessons. And some of the tools we acquire along the way can become so habituated to us that we do not easily replace them with another. So the ‘I’ of ‘Me’ sees life from ‘my’ point of view, from my wants and preferences (which sometimes are not easily distinguished from my needs.)

Discussion about others leads to comparisons and slander. We and they. Our sense of some ‘one’ else, some ‘thing’ else becomes so pervasive that only some One-Person else satisfies; some One-Place else is deemed perfect. Naturally. We perpetuate the mythology of my one and only love, the very best car to have, the best place to vacation, the best product to buy. Somewhere nearby in the subconscious is an awareness of perpetual distinctions depending on where one is at; we easily allow for the best place to eat in Paris as opposed to London, or Calgary, or Pretoria. But the best place to live is.... And no one, no One could be better than...

Dichotomies are subtle; two red VW Beetles parked on the front lawn (when I was about five years old) were encircled by my Uncle David and his friend. “Mine has better.... whatever,” the one would declare. It clearly was a comparison, a contest, a pitting of one against the other. And so we grow up. Size-servings on plates of food are compared by almost everyone (if one watches for the ‘other’s’ glance). On TV in a make-up commercial (I think) two young women sit with their loaded shopping bags on a bench in a busy mall while another young woman, evidently gorgeous with her hair streaming in the wind and attired to blended perfection passes them by. They watch her, envy etched in their countenances, and the one turns to the other and out of the side of her mouth stage-whispers, “Thick ankles!” Ha! We have to compare!

Integration, by degrees, becomes more and more as one lets go of the ‘my’ in one’s ‘I’. We grow up with me and it; me and my parent; me and my family; me and my club, team, school, workplace, city; my preferred province, country, nation and even my world. Thinking about my responsibility to the universe (in terms of my own significance as a molecule within it) seems, well, paradoxically egotistic: Who do I think I am? Let me rather just be the best I can be wherever life may find me, wherever I may choose to be a participant in life. And it will do me well, and I shall do well by it. Life and I. ‘I’, and all the others.

So it goes. One hardly can give up being an ‘I’, a ‘Me’, and wanting, nay... even needing a ‘My’. So it goes. Martin Buber wrote ‘I and Thou’.  Erikson wrote ‘Identity and Crisis.’ I write of this and that. And ‘me’ must perforce be within each word, for who else will type my thoughts for me? But to be content with what just ‘is’? Nope! I have to be more-better or less-gooder by perpetual comparison, don’t I?

                                                                 "I prefer a Texan, any day!"

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