Dozens of masks,
No task… no face?
We pace in air.
A single day is a series of roles we play: Son, daughter, father, mother, worker, lover, fighter, dreamer, planner, mourner…
It’s also a series of moods we go through, each a schema packed full of associated thoughts, views, emotions, volitions, and actions: Angry me, peaceful me, loving me, spiteful me, hopeful me, hopeless me, envious me, generous me…
The only things tying all this together are selective attention and memory. Memory gives the sense of one mental movement giving rise to another, an impression of continuity. Selective attention (spotlight attention) zeroes in on the most nagging sensations and filters out the rest, giving a sense of the world and ourselves being this way and not any other way.
If memory collapses and everything’s perceived as being immediate, and if attention opens up to perceive everything we’re experiencing at any given moment, this segmentation of the self (and the world) into a billion pieces starts to fade.
Then we’re no longer just a dreamer, or just a pragmatist, or just hateful or just loving. All the roles and schemas we page through are all seen at the same time and there’s a sense of wholeness, confidence, and ease. Jung called this individuation.
After that, it’s easier to get to the root of things; turning that last bit of divided attention around on itself and we see that there’s no “I” apart from all these roles and schemas. That I’m neither any of them individually, nor all of them together.
If i’m not that, then who am I? That’s the question, isn’t it? And the answer isn’t, “No one.”