The Two Selves
Joe Clark ~~ Jul 27, 2002

It was a warm summer day as two selves walked along the lakeside path. At a certain point, they agreed to take a break and sit for a moment on a nearby bench. The selves-container wrapped his arms around the back of the bench, sprawled out, and contemplated the lake and the ducks slowly drifting on it. Then, the selves began to speak.

SelfOne began by saying, "Wow! Isn't this a great view? It is so great to be out here in the sun enjoying this moment and the simple pleasures of life."

SelfTwo thought for just a moment and responded, "Yeah, sure, but wouldn't it be better if you had someone to share this moment with?"

SelfOne responded, "Well, maybe. Life consists of many moments and many occasions. On some days one might find that he can focus more on the beauty of the day in solitude."

SelfTwo shot back, "What? Doesn't that make you lonely? How can you stand to sit there by yourself when others are sharing moments just like these and making memories and enjoying time together?"

"Yes, it can be lonely at times," SelfOne replied, "but that is not the point. You have to have balance in your life. You can't always be with others, and you can't always be alone. Life is bigger than that. You see, SelfTwo, I think you have too small a view of living. You are thinking only of a piece of life. Expand your horizons, inflate all your sails, and see where the winds of life will take you."

SelfTwo complained aloud, "But it's so hard to do that. There are so many things in life that are boring or painful. You're telling me those are really part of my life too? Shouldn't I do away with them whenever possible and hate them the rest of the time? Why should I endure trial? How can that be considered "living" in any positive sense?"

SelfOne discoursed: "SelfTwo, my friend, like I said before, your view of life is too small. You see before you only the briefest glimpses of your life. Your life today, your thoughts today, are but one ripple on the waves of time. Look at the lake, full of ripples, each having an up, each having a down, all interacting on the surface of the waters. But think of the ducks out there. They live in the ripples, up and down. They do not despair when they fall into a valley. Rather, they wait patiently, knowing that the crest will come soon. And such is life. Life has many occasions, many situations, all providing a learning experience, all providing a place to grow and a place to understand a little better, and often the many occasions overlap and form a quilt of patterns beneath us. Seek out those ripples. Don't just look for a certain type or a certain corner of the lake. Embrace all the many kinds of occasions in life, and realize that you are not really living to the fullest until you are experiencing the broad range that life has to offer."

SelfOne noticed that SelfTwo was becoming distraught at all this, and he knew what SelfTwo was thinking, and said, "SelfTwo, I know you're scared at what I'm saying. I know you want what you think you've always wanted, and I know you're scared to try for something else, or to try for balance in life. I know you want to define your goal and pursue it to the exclusion of all others. You probably don't see it now, but what I am saying is true...someday you'll understand this."

SelfTwo struck out and said, "But what about the everyday living? What about every moment? What about the valleys of the ripples? What about the days that do not reveal joy, no matter how much effort is put into living? Surely every moment cannot be lived in this enlightened perspective."

SelfOne said carefully, "Well, you are right in that regard. There are days when living is hard, and the joy of diversity and the joy of life itself is not apparent. Sometimes pain comes when we refuse to explore the multiplicities of life. Sometimes it comes of its own accord. But you're right, it does come. But in those times, we must endeavor to remember that life is bigger than the pain. Life is bigger than the moment, and bigger than the sources of our valleys."

SelfTwo, slowly becoming convinced, says, "Okay, but one last thing. What about when the valleys appear, and I think think think and search for the silver lining, I search for the multiplicity of life, and it just isn't there, and living seems solely focused on the one ripple?"

SelfOne, beginning to wrap up his discourse, replied, "Ahh yes. You speak of the times when minds lose control, and understandings of life become confused. At those times, we can try various things, but one often-overlooked technique is to practice non-thinking."

"Non-thinking? What are you talking about?"

"Well, as you know, our lives are full of thoughts, and we go through life examining every moment, and we often find ourselves in the midst of a dream or a nightmare, sometimes even in the same moment. Both the dream and the nightmare are stressful in their own way, and they distract us from the balanced life. While it is true that one of the highest goals of life is self-examination, there are times when we over-examine our lives and would do well to spend time living our lives in all their various ways, and to not worry about examining everything."

SelfTwo nodded slowly, as if convincing himself of the truth of SelfOne's words even as he nodded....After a few moments of silent contemplation, they were once again at peace there beside the lake. Soon the selves-container arose from the bench and continued on down the path and continued to live and ponder his life with just a bit of new-found perspective from the conversations between the selves.


picture courtesy of http://www.tablerocklake.net/