Walker Percy presents the old idea of amnesia used in storytelling, specifically in soap operas and movies. The viewer loves these ideas. Possibly the writer of the story as well. Possibly even the actor. Why do we love this idea of forgetting our past and who we once were? Do we love the idea of starting over again? Of new everything? A new town, spouse, job, view, friends, a new life ….
We have the old self that we get tired of, we get bored. Won’t this “new self” get boring too. This new life after some time? All the new things become familiar and worn, just like the life beforehand.
The self “renewed” through the self will be cyclical. Never satisfied. Always seeking and striving for something new. A new identity, a new persona, a new place, on and on.
But then usually the one who has amnesia has small revelations of the life they once lived. And the story goes on and the character remembers who they once were and are either content with it or must go back to the way things once were and the heart is broken.
Are we always torn between two ideals? The current life we live and the imaginary, “what if” or “if I could only be or do that” life. Are we torn between the mundane and the idealized self?
At times we wish we were someone else, somewhere else, with someone else, at a different, better job … fill in the blank … better ________. We compare ourselves to other selves. But do they truly know who they are?
I don’t have answers. But nurture and growth and guidance and purpose have something to do with finding who we are. Or does death of the old self only bring life to the new self? (No, I’m not talking about suicide).
Do we grope in the dark trying to figure out who we are? Or do we seek wisdom from others to help point us in the right direction? A wise guide will not say “do whatever you want.” A wise guide will give resistance and boundaries helping focus the one seeking to help understand who they are.
This journey is not aimless and made up as we go along. Although some quick decisions have to be made. I like the example of Indiana Jones: he’s leading everyone to the Holy Grail and fighting the Nazis and his companions look to him asking, “what do we do now.” He replies, “I don’t know, I’m making it up as we go.” (something like that … you get the point). But Indiana has years and years of experience and wisdom from others to know what to do next even though it seems he’s making it up as he goes.
So who are we? Who am I? That is something to be found out over a lifetime. Who we are currently, we do not seem to be content with. Seek wisdom.