I hesitantly created a new category for my posts called "Philosophy." I realize that it may be a little vain to call this series of posts philosophy, especially since I likely won't be referencing many philosophers. But when the time comes in a man's life that his thought patterns seem to have little to do with the thought patterns of others, and when his own thought patterns move him closer to those things which we all desire -- contentment, happiness, success, love -- then perhaps it is time to risk the harsh judgment of others and declare some of his words philosophy. Call it what you will...let's move on.
Let's consider the concept of self-centeredness. What's needed in the world is more self-centeredness. What I mean is that it is up to us to place our own life at the center of our world. We do not exist to serve the needs of "the crowd" or "the system"; rather, I think we should find ways to relate to "the world" only insofar as doing so enhances the true quality of our lives.
Much of what I will say in this series will be the opposite of conventional wisdom. Naturally; conventional wisdom is cliche. Cliche is the crowd's truth. "The crowd" doesn't truly exist...well only to the extent that we all imagine it does. Just as with economic and political systems, they only are real in the sense that we all agree to pretend they are.
Naturally, "the crowd" will define self-centeredness as something bad. When one is "too self-centered", that individual isn't doing his job to serve the crowd, and therefore threatens the power of this non-human thing called "the public", "the mass", or "the herd."
But what if we decide that, individually, we are at the center of it all...that our individuality is divine and that the crowd and the systems which it conforms to should merely exist to the extent that it supports our divinity? Of course it is difficult for most people to make this leap. Christianity came along to convince us that somehow it was Jesus' message that we should conform to this thing called "The Church" to achieve salvation. Wasn't Jesus a perfected individual? Then a few hundred years ago, during the Enlightenment, it was believed that, through science and technology, humans could create more and more perfect systems that would get us closer to utopia. We are constantly taught to fight our authentic selves in order to support this external, "more important" thing that is "bigger than us."
Well I'm here to say that nothing in our collective imagination is bigger than us as authentic individuals. As long as we continue to define ourselves only in terms of how we fit into that which is "bigger than us", we will continue to act against our own self-interest and our collective self-interest. We aren't even thinking! We're just reacting out of fear that we don't fit the crowd! And what is there to fear? That we will be lonely? To the contrary, the superficial relationships we find in the crowd are what make us feel lonely.
Clearly, the path we are on will not lead us to utopia. There can never exist a collective utopia. But what *can* exist are individual utopias. We can only find our divinity by expressing and constantly developing our authentic selves while at the same time allowing others to do this same. We cannot find, express, or develop our authentic selves as isolated, lonely members of a society in which relationships are solely defined by economics, systems, organizations. What I'm talking about can only be done one-on-one...in situations where two (or occasionally more) people create a space where they are not only free to be their authentic selves, but they are expected to be that. This state can only be achieved when it is protected from "the world outside" in every sense. The moment something authentic is thrown into "the public", it is thrown to the dogs...becomes interpreted in an inauthentic way and is destroyed.
It is, indeed, possible to develop our authentic selves while at the same time successfully relating to the crowd. This is done by adopting the perspective of "both, and" as opposed "either, or". We don't have to choose between being either completely authentic all the time or being sellouts. We can have both money and quality of life. On the other hand, we can be both poor and have a high quality of life. The examples aren't as important as the way of looking at choices. What did you "sacrifice" recently? Was it really necessary?
Of course there are times when something is clearly not needed in our lives, and it should be rejected completely. But my point is that, when we put our own quality of life ahead of all else, we no longer worry about that which might appear hypocritical to others. In fact, when we live in this state, we no longer care what "the world" thinks about us...as we are beginning to understand ourselves and we have others around us with whom we share this private, personal utopia.
I will talk more about all of this in future posts. Specifically, I will talk about how to build the kinds of relationships that are needed to achieve this state. I will also redefine other words as I have done with the concept of "self-centered".
But for now, it is enough that we remind ourselves to stop worrying about where our life "is going" or, worse yet, what we can do to change the masses. Our lives are not missions. The only purpose for our existence is to be the unique genetic mutation that we are. So for us to become that which we were meant to become, we have to slow down and take the time to become that which we truly are!