Friday, October 12, 2012

We are Such Stuff as Dreams are Made Of

I can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all.

- Neutral Milk Hotel, Aeroplane Over the Sea

One of the most sobering feelings I have comes to me when I look myself in the mirror. I stare directly into my eyes in the same way I would if I was to engage another person in contact, and then the epiphany strikes: There's not another person there, that person I see is an image of myself. When I apply the concept of myself to the image in the mirror, I remember that I am a real thing. More than a real thing, in fact. I am a thing that is sentient. And I have some control. When I move my arm, the image's arm moves. And my subconscious self is almost in denial about it, because being sentient is such a rarity. Out of all of the many things that fill the universe, only a minuscule, finite number of them are sentient. And one of them is me. How unlikely.

Seeing myself from the outside reminds me that I have a self on the inside. The image in the mirror bears semblance to myself in the way other people see me. I am not a floating consciousness, I have a body and a brain, the same way everyone else has a body and a brain. I subconsciously realize that through my body, I have an impact on other things. And of those things, some of them witness and experience my body and my brain, because they are also sentient. This isn't a groundbreaking realization, in fact it seems obvious. But even though it seems obvious, in waking life I tend to forget about it. It seems more likely to me that I am somebody outside my body, merely observing the actions of the person in the mirror from behind his eyes.

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