THE Thinking Me

Who are you really? Forget the Given name, Surname, Maiden name, Profession and all external paraphernalia defining you. When you strip yourself naked of it, who you are is essentially your thoughts and notions. Part of these notions have been drilled and conditioned into your brain which you begin to consider true. However, thankfully a good chunk of your thoughts surmising you are organically the result of your experiences. I read this fantastic book called

“The Brain – the story about you” by David Eagleman and for the first time I could truly appreciate the splendour of the human brain. Thank God the brain is so blithely dynamic and flexible that every experience you have can modify its neural activity for better or worse. Imagine if it wasn’t for this “liveware” of brain and its stupendous ability to edit its connections, you might be stuck with someone else’s prejudices and principles for the rest of your life. And it would be such a defeating existence.

Considering an average life span of 80 years and by having spent about 40% of it, you come to believe that you know yourself damn well. Apart from the conditioning around, you write your own ideals, goals and ideologies in life and vouch for them as mostly unchangeable henceforth, because of your strong faith in yourself. I believed so myself and was headstrong about it. Only to realize that your belief system is not foolproof, it’s fickle. And it’s not unbecoming of you to modify it, only natural.

As you experience the world, its people, things, cultures, nature, settings, your thoughts undergo a million revisions and it sticks with a particular idea until a newer experience challenges it. And these experiences are not always life defining or life changing moments, they are simply perspective changing, most cleverly unearthing your hidden facets you didn’t even know existed within you. This is exactly who you are, discovering yourself anew every time. You never know yourself enough.

On a personal level, life for me was pretty much in black or white. However, as years passed by, as my repository of experiences enriched, as I saw more of the world, I perceived the myriad shades of gray in between. I want to refrain from saying rights and wrongs, they are merely shades and you find yourself switching sometimes from dark to light or light to dark. I have internally realized that as you experience more, you judge less. And when you relieve yourself of judging others, you also release yourself from your own judging eye and it is liberating. Sometimes you are so hooked on to your own code of conduct that it’s almost criminal to violate it. However, accept it or not, newer experiences make way for newer connections and newer value and belief systems. Difficult as it might initially seem to let go of your principles, the transition becomes very fluid when you stop making judgements.

Let’s put it this way, you might be a doting parent but you have surely lost all patience more than once with your kid and whacked or wanted to whack him. I have given in to such instincts at times, and sometimes I have overcome them. But the point is, not being a parent and looking from a neutral aspect I would paint a very dark tinted image of such aggressive parents. However, having been there personally I empathize with you and do not judge you or myself. I discount my behaviour as acceptable. So what’s right or wrong here? Nothing. There’s only my hostile neural activity and experience which helps me relate to other such parents. This was a simplistic example; however life has more to offer in terms of complexity.

As ordinary humans you and I face more implicit, tabooed and precarious dilemmas. You might have been so enraged to punch somebody right in the eye, you might have urged to know the psychedelic trance effect of a weed joint with your peers, and you might have desired to be flirted upon or dally with another attractive man or woman. May I say there might be more “scandalous” situations and choices that you might find yourself in. Curious instincts and urges have found their way to us at some point and it would be very hypocritical to deny their presence.

I recently learnt that every slight decision that you make, takes into account your past and future. The brain with its exponential and infinitesimal speed and prowess of the unconscious substrata processes your past memories and future consequences with reference to the present situation and then takes a decision. So what you do with your instincts is a personal choice based on your evaluation. But because you have an evolved and intelligent consciousness, it is your decision to either surrender to immediate gratification or hold on to your will power. As simple as you might devour a chocolate here and now or forego it in the interest of your weight loss.

Whatever you choose to do, I might differ from you but I do not want to condemn you. Your right is different from my right but if at all I find myself in your shoes someday, I might understand your right better. Very often, you will find expressing yourself most honestly, frankly, boldly and uninhibitedly in the company of your most trusted mates because you do not fear being judged. It is a refreshing freedom to be you.

Also very often, you look at others through filters of relationship roles and models. You might approve of something as a woman but not as a wife. You might indulge in something as a bachelor but not as a family man. Interestingly, despite everything, there’s still a YOU within you who craves for things beyond your socially conditioned periphery. And it’s very alluring to just be YOU sometimes. I am not suggesting any depravity, insouciance or recklessness in the popular sense here. I am only being audacious to acknowledge the instincts and not be judged for who I am.

I was born a daughter, years later I added wife and daughter-in-law to the repertoire and a few years down I collected another tag as a mother. But these are parts of me, I am not whole unless including my individual self. The great Rene Descartes very intuitively said, “I think; therefore I am.” And the fact that I am considering and writing this makes me sure that I really am. And it’s absolutely heady to feel yourself alive and thinking.