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Bumping Into Others In Search Of Self

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Coracle in Vietnam, January 2011

I went back into my archives for this photo.  The scene is not far from CanTho, Vietnam.  I did try my hand at paddling one of these coracles but only ended up making very little progress while frequently making spinning motions with the little boat.  Going forward is a lot harder than it appears.

Going forward is about leaving something behind.  I did finally reach a short destination with the coracle, and I left a small wake that faded away that had indicated where I had been in spite of the many lateral movements .  This is how I came to understand how I achieved a basic level of consciousness that I now have as my sense of self.  The spinning of my wheels taking me on side trails where I bumped into others who taught me the difference between myself and them served a vital purpose.

Each bump along the way served to redirect me.  I met an other, engaged in a relationship that made a difference even if I didn’t know what that difference was, even if I didn’t recognize the existence of some of the relationships.  And in gaining some meagre bits of awareness, I left behind that moment, that bit of darkness of the unknown.

And in leaving a bit of darkness that had me in a relation with an other I lost that relationship only to begin a new relationship, perhaps even with the same person – well not really the same person as we had both changed and had become different people.

In spite of relationships, past, present or future – I am alone as is this man, spinning as I somehow go forward in search of consciousness of my self, searching for answers to my questions.  In spite of being alone, I am forever bouncing off of others, engaging at some level with these others – some deeply, some superficially – and in the process of engagement I grow more into my own answers.

“we seek our identity in the mirror of the Other, as we once did in Mom and Dad.  With all the wounds of this perilous condition we seek a safe harbor in that Other who, alas is seeking the same in us.  With the thousand adaptive strategies derived from the fortuities of fated time, fated place, fated Others, we contaminate the frail present with the germs of the past.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 32)


Written by Robert G. Longpré

May 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm

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