Note: This may get a bit personal. I really didn’t write it thinking that it might help you in any way. It’s one of those selfish blog posts that the authors dedicate to no one but themselves. But I welcome all readership.
Would you enjoy looking at an intrusion of cockroaches? No, you wouldn’t. It would be unfair to blame anyone for not wanting to look at something that’s repulsive. Bragging about self-awareness is like bragging that you looked at a bunch of cockroaches without flinching. It’s nothing to be proud of. It’s something to admit, not proclaim.
But for me who has nothing but self-awareness, it isn’t about pride. It’s a matter of survival. Someone said that it is because of insecurity that I won’t let myself be in a state where my will and my actions are not in accordance – that which is associated with heavy alcohol consumption. Sure enough, I’ve never been that drunk before. But I initially objected to that assertion. Although now that I think about it, it is correct insofar that it speaks about metaphysical security. It’s the threat of losing oneself that frightens me. After all, what is a man without himself?
What good comes from spewing careless words that can damage relationships, from drinking until you lose your consciousness and become a burden to your companions? And what about being vulnerable to people who you’re not sure if they would exploit and hurt you? Why would you do such a thing? For a good memory, I suppose. But it’s only a good memory if nothing bad happens. Sometimes, all it takes is just one bad day, or one bad moment, to ruin lives.
But lurking underneath these doubts is a presumption about mankind, without which one wouldn’t even begin to think about such questions. Is it wrong to assume that people will hurt and exploit you given an appropriate circumstance? It’s not that they possess malice. No, not always. Certainly not most of the times. But people do succumb to the force of circumstances. They lie, cheat and exploit each other weakness out of vanity. That’s not malevolence, because a will to hurt is then required, and there often isn’t. It’s just vanity.
But let’s get back to survival. I remember moments in my life where hope was nowhere to be found. What sustained me was the fact that I kept my attention on the sufferings. I didn’t shy away or look for comforting answers. I chose to pay my attention, because I realized the lack of attention, to oneself and to others, was the cause to such sufferings. I am determined to keep them away from other people. If I hadn’t paid attention, then I would have acted out in a manner that transmits these pain unto others. It is only by keeping sufferings within my awareness and seeking resolution in that abstract space that I can stop perpetuating the cycle. As such, maintaining attention and awareness has been a successful strategy for survival. Forsaking that strategy which has saved me doesn’t seem to be reasonable, given the fact that not only it aided in my survival, it also has helped me thrive and get to where I am today.
So I wouldn’t trade my capacity to pay attention for anything, and self-awareness, in its essence, is paying attention to oneself and where one is positioned within his immediate surroundings, physical or otherwise.
Why is it that I made an analogy between having self-awareness and looking at a bunch of cockroaches? To look at oneself, with true honesty, is to see in oneself all the atrocities and calamity committed by human beings throughout history, and to say with absolute conviction that, it could have easily been me who killed all these people. I can, in fact, manipulate and hurt other people, I can ruin their lives physically and psychologically. I can do all of these things because I am human, and that’s the sort of things human beings are capable of. That awareness is enough to make the bravest vomit in disgust and contempt, convulse and embrace oneself like an embryo yearning to get back to its mother’s womb – a paradise in which everyone was once innocent. Yeah, it’s worse than cockroaches. It’s much worse than that.
But why do I have nothing but self-awareness? What do people “have”? What does “have” mean, exactly? For me, it must be something that remains when everything else crumbles away. What can you forcibly take away from a man while keeping himself intact? For me, the answer is his self awareness. Because I experienced moments in my life where absolutely everything else besides my own self-awareness betrayed me, that was the only answer that I could come up. It stood the test of time, and of whatever else the universe has managed to conjure up and throw at me.
Therefore, even though it is nothing to be proud of, I was endeared by my self-awareness.