Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who am I?

Who am I? Who are you? That guy who lives next door, who is he? That other guy, a few houses down the street, with the dark blue car? What about him? Who's he?

Who are we?

What makes us who we are?

Contrary to Tyler Durden's manifesto -- that we are not beautiful and unique snowflakes, that we are the same decaying organic matter as everything else -- I can't help but realize that, at least on certain levels, we are unique. Perhaps not beautiful, but unique, at the very least.

I am not you, and you are not me, and the guy next door is not the guy from a few houses down with the dark blue car.

Why not?

What makes us different?

More importantly, what makes us who we are?

I've had this weird idea for awhile that there really isn't any such thing as free will, just the illusion we have of free will, based on the way we perceive time. Every choice I make is actually the only choice I could possibly make, based on the combination of my particular biology at that moment in time, as well as all of the internal and external influences I've had on my life for my entire life.

Of course, I don't realize that I have no choice but to make that choice. So I just make it. And it seems like I'm choosing. And everything continues on as planned.

So, in a way, who I am could be defined by the entirety of my internal and external experiences, as well as my particular biology.

That's me.

There's only two problems.

First, it's really boring.

Second, it doesn't leave much room for self improvement.

See, one of the problems with this particular philosophy is that, as much as you may believe it, you can never, under any circumstances, spend any time thinking about it. If you do, you end up stuck in a sort of defeatist spin. I mean, why make any choices? You have no control anyway. And there, even that choice to make choice at all was a choice that you had no choice but to make. So why bother? Just give up. Lie in bed all day watching crappy daytime television and reading comic books. Because, hey, you didn't have any choice but to choose that.

See what I mean?

But it did get me thinking, even without that particular philosophy, who much room do we really have for self improvement? I mean, there's the age old adage that a leopard can't change its spots. That who we are is who we are is who we are, regardless of how much we may want it to be otherwise.

For example, if I were to say that I wanted to be more athletic, people would say, "Well, go and play some sports then. Go to the gym. Play squash or something. Stop talking about it and do it." And I probably would. For awhile. But most people who try to change their lifestyle, they follow the new thing for awhile, then eventually drop it, revert back to their old habits. Because they're lazy? Or because that's who they are?

What if I said I wanted to be blonde? Or have green eyes?

People might tell me to dye my hair or get coloured contact lenses, but then, are those things really changing me, or are they just cosmetic differences? I don't actually become a green-haired blonde. I become a blue-eyed brunette with hair colouring and contact lenses.

What does this all have to do with? I don't know. Partly the fact that I've already sort of been bombing out on the "write every single day" part of my new year's resolution, and it's not even the end of february, so sure, I'm wondering if maybe *not* writing is some inescapable part of my biology.

And yeah, it's got something to do with last night's rant, partly my desire to be a better person, and partly that less spoken-of desire to be a worse one, the desire to be selfish and self-serving, to myself first above all else, and continue down that path until I'm happy, everyone else be damned.

But can I ever actually do either? Can I be better? Can I be worse? Or am I fated to simply remain stuck in the middle, stuck with exactly who I am, whoever that might be?

And, yeah, this is coming out as a response to the general sense of discontentment that's been rattling around in my head for far, far too long. Because when you look at your life, and you feel that sick sense of discontment, the only solution you can think of is, "Change something."

And maybe you can't.

Maybe you're just who you are.

And maybe who you are is someone who's always going to be discontented. Maybe there's no escaping it. Maybe there's no cure. And maybe there's nothing you can do different.

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