Thursday, July 26, 2007

Your 'Ol pal Huckleberry posits some thoughts on human nature and one concept of Fear.

What is that characteristic that makes fear such a unique quality among mankind. It is true that animals have fear, but the fear experienced among animals is that of predator and prey; the shock of the unexpected; the tenuous and unfamiliar; and the anxiety that comes—like the Pavlovian ringing of the bell—from an associated experience or training. Mankind shares all of these petty fears with the animal kingdoms and then some. We develop fears of things where none would occur to the beasts of the field. And unlike the animals, we require no ringing bell or heavy-handed master to wring fear from our soul—we teach fear to ourselves.

Each of us can close our eyes and imagine ourselves. This is unique to us amongst all creation. As we do so, often we do not like what we see. There will be elements that we do like—other things we are unsure of. There are undoubtedly pieces that we see as simply bits of us that are neither good nor bad. All of these are jumbled up alongside other bits of baggage and treasures that we have carried along for the ride—imposed upon us through relationship and experience. But surely there is more. For none of us can ever be fully aware of how we understand ourselves fully. Just as there are unconscious pieces and bits that inform our peculiar tics and behaviors, there are unconscious bits and pieces of our definition of ourselves that we do not understand and may never be fully aware of. In any event, the mosaic of our self-definition only takes shape when viewed with some distance—like a fine mosaic of ceramic and glass, each shard of glazed clay and chip of stained crystal has sharp edges and smooth spots and various shapes and forms that are incongruous until one stands back from that whole. A few paces back, the colors blend and the shapes blur into form and an image appears. Many of those pieces were laid by our own had and are fraught with bits of denial and deception. This is, after all, our self-image—not necessarily our true image—and we added the denial and deception to fill in the gaps and missing pieces in vain attempt to see ourselves for ourselves. At some point then we think that we have a picture that is relatively complete.

We live our lives seeing all that happens to us in the light that bounces off of this self image. Eventually we convince ourselves that this image is reality--or at least it is "our" reality as if there were more than one.

There are those who then project this self image outward. They take their image and place its strictures onto the people and the world around them. Think of the man who cheats on his taxes or steals from, his employer because he believes that everyone cheats steals. He cannot accept the good in any man because he cannot find the good in himself.

There are others who project their image inwardly. Think of the person who believes himself worthless because he believes in conceit that others see him as worthless.

There are those who construct their opinion of themselves based upon this self-appraisal.

  • The captain of business who believes himself superior.
  • The master of a craft who sees himself defined by his skill.
  • The well-ordered mind that sees all within his control.
  • The disciplined athlete who sees himself as a physical sculpture of flesh.
  • The glutton who finds pardon and comfort in his girth.
  • The self-defeatist who satisfies his excuses in the vagaries of fortune.
  • The manic who justifies himself in his production of work.
  • There are so many more.

Each of us wraps the definition around ourselves as a blanket. We use it to shape our understanding of ourselves, our world, and all that we experience. In this it is comforting. But is it real or a distortion. Consider that each of us has anxiety, fear, despising, and dread of all things, experiences, people, and ideas that challenge this self-imposed mosaic of our soul.

Be well,

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