Standing on a wall

This was written after having the webpage for a month and I was getting quite a barrage of responses, some positive, some negative. It was an interesting time.

December 1, 1997

Recently, a friend wrote me and said that it was difficult to get to the real me from my webpage. Still another person said that he learned more from me through this project of mine than he had in several years. Is there a discrepancy? Is there a reason I dwell endlessly on such subjects?

I have been forced to ask myself who I really am several times lately. Am I my possessions? Well, in a way, sort of, but not really. Am I my likes and dislikes, closer, but still limited. Am I my associations, my friends and family? To an extent. Am I my surroundings? Again, in part. How about my beliefs? My dreams? My hopes? My thoughts? My actions? Am I my body? To all of these and many more, I simply answer no.

What then? Even the sum total of all of these does not account for my (and incidentally, everyone's) personality. I am taking a personality class this semester, and feel that all the theories that have been developed are highly inadequate. No, I don't have the final solution, but I have some ideas. I believe that personality comes from before we were even born. A truly temporal view is that our personality is what we experience and learn, but in my theory, that only explains the development of what was already there. There is only one personality, the one God knows. We had it before we came here. We forgot it when we were born. We slowly try to rediscover what it is and who we are, but sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes life distorts that personality, sometimes we choose to go against who we really are. With this mortal flesh, an added dimension is explored. We come to forget our spiritual side and only see the physical. We look through our eyes and think with our mind. Information about the world comes to us through our senses, and we interpret ourselves as a function of the physical world. But there is so much more. Defining such is beyond simple words.

Is this web page really me? Of course not. Any more than describing my physical attributes fully defines me. This web page is a reflection of the inner me, the side few people ever see. Even I do not see all that is there, and am on an odyssey of self discovery (to use the words of the group Dead Can Dance). I learn about myself as I continue to live, to experience. You cannot expect to know me completely until I do. But then, all of you must ask yourselves how well you know your inner selves.

How can I stand to place all these precious internal parts of myself on display, like an actor on a stage (note that this is my main theme), after so many years of keeping them all bottled up? To an extent, I have learned to distance the reflection, the product, the creation from the creator. What you see is not me, but is one of the closer representations you will see. You will never truly know me.

Does any one human truly know any other human? I don't believe that is possible. Here we are, isolated beings in these mortal frames, alone and cut off for the first time in the history of our existence (if you believe in the eternal nature of man's spirit, which I do), and we are unused to the experience. We seek and grope and reach out as we learn to use this flesh, and hope we will find the connections we had in lives past. Some search in the wrong ways, but we all need that interconnection we formerly had. There is no way to completely establish this ideal connection with another in this life, so we approximate. We fill our lives with personal interaction, with physical affections, with letters and poetry and music other arts. And web pages. We hope these will help us to understand each other better. In part, we succeed, but never completely. Not in this life.

I stand on this wall. My creation. It is a part of me. It is my child. To know it is to know (and perhaps understand) a little of me, but never completely. As I said before, this is a distanced version of me, another wall protecting me, aided by technology, but of my own making. It can be used to keep out, or to keep in. Or, for those willing to try, it can be a stepping point to a higher understanding.

However, even this does not cover everything. There is no way to even get a good understanding of me with just the web page. It requires the personal contact. I am more than my thoughts. I am more than my feelings. I am very much the physical, living, breathing being that sees and touches and deals with back pain and blurring eyes and headaches. I have to deal with hormones and chemicals and food and discharging my body of waste and other physical experiences.

All this is me, and more. It requires the entire picture, the combination of all aspects, to understand. But this is a good place to start. So scale the wall with me.

Thank you for listening.

© Matthew Rutherford 1997

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