"Self" has been described and discussed vastly in different fields. Philosophers, psychologists and sociologists have defined the word, explained the concept in details, and analyzed it with different approaches. Many people in a broad field of sciences, from Avicenna to Heidegger, have worked on it.
I am no philosopher, but I have my own theory.
In my opinion, "Self", as well as many other physical materials, can be described as having the dual wave-like and particle-like property. Now I’m not only talking about the small components of body, as in the organic ingredients, which can in detail be a composition of atoms, so electrons and nucleus and hence smaller particles, which can have that dual property. I am as well talking about the good old "Self", the one who sits behind our eyes in our brain, and senses stuff. The king of the kingdom. The one in whose eyes we look while looking inside the mirror. The one we are alone with at night right before going to sleep and review the day’s events once more. The one we make promises to, while making the New Year’s resolutions. One’s own Self.
This so called "Self", although is not definitely mere matter (and I’m not quite sure if it is some sort of energy, or just a result of different interactions and synapses inside the amazing brain), can in my idea have both properties of a wave, and a particle, with different quanta of energy.
I describe it in this way. I am the same person in this body since I was born. Sure I have grown and changed, but this person who is typing these words, is the same person who once was 4, 12, 20 or 30. The same person who almost was drowned when she was four, hated her new school when she was 14, read like crazy in odd hours of day when she was 19, and fell off the bike when she was 30. The same person who chose a wrong path on an important turning point in 17 and still regrets it, took the right path in another turning point in 25 and is still happy about it. I am the same person. I am a whole.
Still, I cannot believe I am the same person I once was in my early 20s. I cannot believe some of my choices back then. It’s as if someone else made those choices. Someone else has lived that life; someone else experienced those events. It’s as if at some points in my life, quanta of energy have knocked me off my state at the time, sending me to another level. Whether it’s a higher level or not, I cannot judge necessarily (although one can argue that "being happy" can be a good scale to measure the level of the state) but still, I can say for sure that it’s another level.
One specific experience that sometimes can mark these different states, is meeting an old friend. When there is a friendship that has reached to the expiration date, and you meet that friend after awhile, there are moments that you cannot believe you were once so close to this friend and actually had a pretty good time together. What has happened is simply that you both have changed, and the change is not only in your new high-lights, or her nose job. It’s something in different levels of each one’s state. Something that makes you disappointed, when you both look deep into each other’s eyes, while chatting from here and there, unable to find the other one’s familiar Self…It’s not only the disappointment from not finding the old friendship, but a horrible feeling of being torn into parts in time. The more the change and the farther the friend seems, the more painful the feeling. "Who the heck was I back then?" won’t leave you for quite some time…
But it will pass. The continuity of the life routine will ease the pain. One, gets quanta of energy again, changes levels, and continues to be the same self over and over again, experiencing all those ups and downs, in one whole life…
Early in the afternoon, nice breeze through a window, two big mugs of freshly steeped tea. After a pause in front of the fridge, I pick one "Kit Kat-dark" to accompany with my tea. Offering it to Mr Alchemist, he tries one stick, and he hates it! I love it, and we break into a discussion about why we feel so differently about the same thing. He thinks that this dark version of Kit Kat, or any dark chocolate for that matter, is not sweet enough as a chocolate is supposed to be, in fact it leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth after one eats it. He says that’s the main reason why he dislikes dark chocolate. I love dark Kit Kat, or any dark chocolate for that matter, exactly for the same reason.
I’m talking over the phone with my father. It’s more of a discussion rather than a chat. We are discussing over a family-relations subject. Somebody has told a lie and expects everyone not only to accept it, but not to investigate it anymore. He believes it’s just some type of a game, which shouldn’t distract him from his more important issues in his life. I believe although there are important issues in his life, but so many of his obstacles originate from this childish game, which he should notice and care about.
I have two friends, both with kids. They have both been treated the same when they were kids themselves, meaning they were both being punished physically for their bad behaviors. Now after becoming adults and having kids of their own, for the same concept, they have concluded two different conclusions. One of them punishes her kids physically ("It was the same for me, and I turned out to be fine. I know it was for my own good back then, and now this is for the kids' own good."). The other one doesn’t even touch them when she is angry, worried that her touch may not have the same "gentleness" as her regular hug and care.
You can find thousand and thousands of these examples in your everyday life. From the smallest issues like selecting the pistachio over vanilla ice cream, to the bigger concepts of politics, ideology, or society. This could be seen as different perceptions (Hello my friend MH!). But my point is, who can decide what is good and what is bad for a whole bunch of people? If the results for me is totally different from my father's, my brother's, or my friend's, who can say that having 12000 calories per day will have the same effect on our bodies as it has for Michael Phelps? Who can guaranty that walking up and down the stairs for 30 minutes straight which is good for my chubby friend, does the same for me, and won’t hurt my knees? Who can say that this ideology or that social concept works for all the people? And more practically, aren’t we observing the result? Which nation is totally/totally happy and successful? I’m not talking about the surveys based on one person or a group of people’s perception on happiness and the conclusions, I’m talking reality. What makes the Danishes the happiest nation in the world, may not work for the people of Zimbabwe.
Maybe if we observe more, an unbiased observation without any prejudice, then coming to a pattern and then deciding upon that pattern helps us much more than deciding upon one person’s belief, or a group’s ideology, or a nation’s way of living. Maybe then we can come to some general rules to be happy and live happily, or maybe not. But at least we may come to the conclusion that we accept our differences and live by each other, without the urge to convince the other one to accept our beliefs.
Maybe the world turns out to be a better place after all…
I am Iranian, living in Canada and in my 30s; with all the questions, interests and struggles of this age; plus the everyday challenges of a new mother. I like to observe curiously, think deeply and act seriously...