If your readers are not interested in hearing your occasional self-directed hybrid-philosophical-hippie ruminations, they are free to skip this post–and you won’t hold it against them.
It seems that, given your upbringing of Standard American Values: love of meat, love of money, love of cars, love of material things, love of Herbert Spencer’s Social Darwinism; you would have gagged yourself before uttering any of the content yet to be disclosed.
Have you read too many books? Have you worked on too many eco-farms? Too many wishy-washy holistic kitchens? Maybe…
Sorry, America. You take it all back. You were young, then. What did you know?
A few of your friends may remember your having said, a time or two, that you’d completely reversed yourself in a matter of years from Standard American Values. But you’ll reiterate, nonetheless.
You’ve been thinking a lot about identity lately… and more recently, about intention. And just this week, how the two work in tandem to weave the fabric of a person’s life.
To begin: there are innumerable things at play in this universe.
Quantum physics, which one might consider the science of possibility, demonstrates that there isn’t really anything such as matter. There are no is and is-not’s. On a deep metaphysical level, there is no way to differentiate between where one person ends, and another person begins–or anything, for that matter (pun not intended).
Science tries in vain to classify, separate, and segregate everything as if these things actually exist independently. You don’t blame it. Given the limitations of the human psyche, its parochial tools for experiencing the universe, it makes sense for them to try to prove “things” through logic, as has been the trend of Western Philosophy since Aristotle.
But when things simply defy logic… then what?
Ah, well the scientist says that your tools weren’t sufficiently sophisticated. It has been an error on your part.
And yet, even with science’s increasing sophistication, some things are nonetheless continuing to defy logic.
The scientist gives the same answer; he discards the data, and oftentimes stops pursuing an answer.
How do you explain the power of prayer? Though you’re not a religious person, you will not overstretch and say that prayer–with its entire history–is ineffectual. If it were, then you doubt human societies would have persisted in doing so.
Why is it important to visualize? You’re not even talking about mediation. You’re talking about Michael Jordan, for example. You can rest assured he’s done a fair amount of visualization in order to become one of the greatest basketball players that ever lived.
Okay, now for meditation… innumerable studies have been conducted, innumerable books written on its power. Science can confirm the power, but it cannot in large part explain–logically deduce–why.
Intention seems to be the underlying factor here. There is power in intention, no doubt about it.
So what about identity? You’re going to go out on a limb here and loosely define “identity” as the “thing” you intend to be. Your identity, if it is positive (high self-esteem, anyone?!) can guide you merrily along through life; contrariwise, a negative identity (“I’m fat. I’m stupid. I’m worthless.”) can have the power to abolish your overarching well-being.
Apparently the body–in it’s cells–has little receptor “key holes” which receive small amino acid chains that are the basic chemistry of your emotions. The more you feel a certain way all the time, “sad,” for example, the more “sadness” chemistry is created. Your cells receive this sadness. Again, and again, and again, until eventually–like any system of inputs and increasing tolerance–you end up re-wiring your body to expect this input!
And then what? Your body has an intention for sadness. You actively seek situations that will invoke sadness in you. Anyone ever known someone with a “victim mentality?” Yeah, they relish it. And now… their identity has become that of a victim.
Intention and identity are inextricably linked.
Change your thought processes. Change the way you relate to your own emotions; step away from them, observe them, understand their source and influence and, if they happen to be negative or self-defeating, acknowledge but do not engage with them.
You ultimately have a choice; you can choose the direction of your intentions. By doing that, you shape your identity.
Your identity has nothing to do with others’ perceptions of you. Allow it to be thus, and voluntarily imprison yourself. That’s what labels are for. Once you hold on too strongly to a label, suffering begins, and the threat of its loss paralyzes one with fear.
Stop giving a damn about what other people think, and stop viewing yourself through their eyes. Do what makes you happy, as your dad always says. If you are manacled to the labels and expectations of cultural norms, focus your intentions where you want them to be. The manacles disappear; your identity will follow. And if you are honest with yourself–truly honest–you won’t care about Standard American Values.
And so… as you wander around aimlessly, you endeavor to observe your occasional feelings of sadness, loneliness, and guilt associated with a wanton lifestyle. You acknowledge, but you do not engage. Because, goddammit!, you’re actually very happy, and you’d wager that others (even though the perspective of others doesn’t matter) see your identity as such: a happy person.