How many stories will I be in this lifetime?
How many times has my personal narrative changed to encompass my new thoughts and interests?
When people say the authentic self resembles our child self, I reserve a healthy amount of skepticism because my younger self did not gravitate towards the things that I gravitate to now. And there are so many things one can gravitate towards to now. I have so many interests I’m bursting at the seams with them. This in itself is a fatal flaw: this immobilizes me from action because I don’t know what to pursue and when to pursue it.
In these times, I like to pause and remember this quote from Viktor Frankl from Man’s Search for Meaning:
To put the question in general terms would be to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent.
The point I extract from here, is that you cannot begin any endeavor with the hopes of winning the game from the start. You immobilize yourself in fear when you think in terms of all or nothing, black or white thinking, because if you think about it, at the outset there’s no move you can make that can possibly “win” the game. Because your definition of success at the outset might be wildly different from the success you experience in this endeavor, which is something you can’t predict in the beginning. Maybe you realize along the way, that the successes you thought would bring you happiness in fact pale against the successes that are actually intrinsically valuable towards you.
Is the authentic self therefore the unchanging self? The interests that have defined me throughout life? My penchant for reaching towards a paper and pen and creating stories to pluck me from my reality, my gravitation towards adventure stories, adventure video games? What does this mean? That I’m an explorer? How do you build a career out of being a 21st century Indiana Jones?
Maybe this: maybe I am realizing that the comfort zone I have bricked myself into is choking me of air. Yet, slowly but surely I am taking the necessary leaps to propel me towards whatever my subconscious is silently pulling me towards. Because at the end of the day, I think deep down, you know what you’re meant to do. You know, and it’s manifested in the actions you do today: in the excellent work that you produce compared to the other crap that you churn out, in the books that you reach for over the thousands of other titles, in the people you admire over the ones you don’t give a passing glance over. Your intuition does know, but you keep ignoring the pulls and the voice that whispers, “I think this is it.”
Do you get better at differentiating these voices as you get older? Does your cacophony of beckoning interests quiet down as you choose a few and specialize? Or does it get louder with age?
I hope it gets louder, funnily enough. But I also hope that I get better at chess.