When you find your mind wandering, ask yourself these two questions:
What am I thinking?
Why am I thinking this?
And when you’re busy, ask these three:
What am I doing?
What do I hope to gain by it?
Why does this matter to me?
Ask these questions and you’ll sidestep the bullet Socrates fired into the future when he said,
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Reality Television. Why are we so quick to examine the lives of others and so reluctant to examine our own?
Carl Jung gave us another lens for self-examination when he said,
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
Make a list of your pet peeves and you’ll learn something about yourself.
But then we must contend with Dr. Richard Cytowic, that famous neurologist who tells us,
“Not everything we are capable of knowing and doing is accessible to, or expressible in, language. This means that some of our personal knowledge is off limits even to our own inner thoughts! Perhaps this is why humans are so often at odds with themselves, because there is more going on in our minds than we can ever consciously know.”
Wow. According to Cytowic, there’s stuff happening in our heads that can’t be spoken; stuff we don’t even know that we know.
And then, just to make absolutely certain that we don’t get too cocky about this whole self-examination thing, MIT’s Dr. Jerre Levy throws her own special molotov cocktail into the mix:
“The left brain maps spatial information into a temporal order, while the right brain maps temporal information onto a spatial order. In a sense understanding largely consists in the translation of information to and fro between a temporal ordering and a spatial one – resulting in a sort of stereoscopic depth-cognition.”
Strangely, the solution to unraveling this hopelessly tangled knot we call self-identity can be found in the advice of an imaginary person in a science fiction book about archaeology on other planets:
“Show me what a person admires, and I will tell you everything about them that matters.” – Maggie Tufu, The Engines of God, p. 398
Do you want to know yourself better?
Quickly make a list of:
2 favorite visual artists
3 favorite poems
4 favorite stories
5 favorite movies
6 favorite songs
When you’ve made these lists, take them with you into the rabbit hole and Indiana Beagle will tell you what to do next.
I’ll see you there.
Roy H. Williams