There are many things a person is capable of achieving in their life – one of them is the capacity to reinvent our self; to leave behind things that don’t serve us, and embrace those we think as valuable. As opposed to machines who invariably respond as programmed, we can change our behavior at will.
Our past conditions us, but it doesn’t define us. It can leave a strong imprint on certain aspect of our personhood, like our personality or alter our perspective of the world, but its effect is never too strong to impede us from transforming ourselves. Let us grow away from our past, if we wish, and head towards a vision.
We are always more than our past like a system is more than its constituent parts, for we hold the faculty of reinvention. We can always change the outcome of today, for we possess what Eckhart Tolle calls: “The Power of Now”. Our condition in the present time can be characterized as an openness towards how we respond at every moment. This thought is what has led many people to say things such as: “Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present”. And it truly is! With the ability to re-direct our life towards the ever-branching possibilities, the future is open.
The thought part of it is that our mind is a tricky thing, once it has made a concept out of something, it’s reluctant to change it. To leave fatalism and determinism out of our world view and to remember that the possibilities are there for those who believe and are brave enough to seize them.
Like imagination, personal reinvention feeds on creativity. The truth is that we are creatures of habit. Every day there is recursion in our thoughts and actions. When was the last time we did something crazy? We need to give ourselves an extra boost to create an anomaly in our pattern, so that we can increase our ingenuity and resourcefulness.
Every individual is as unique as every cloud is. Day by day, we construct our own story, whether we choose it or not, for even not to choose is a choice! There is a constant requirement for us to respond. Let us remember that this response is always a chosen one. This reminds me of the painting “The Raft of Medusa” by Théodore Géricault, where we can appreciate different attitudes from a group of castaways. Despite being in the same situation, some choose hope while other despair, creating a ‘Pyramid of Hope.’
There will be times when we feel a sense of satisfaction with our personal success, or the thing that we have come to be. At this point, we might want to create a new self: discard the things we don’t like and adopt those that we do. Like a snake that sheds its skin, we can do it too!
The only thing that is impeding us from making a change within, is an attachment to our ego. The aberration of our mind to say that we are so and so, will sabotage our transformation. I find it quite interesting that the word “person” was originally used to designate a “mask” or a “false face” in ancient Greece.
It came to be used in the context of drama as an “assumed character”; eventually this linguistic usage stuck in our common language to designate a human being. Perhaps this is because life and the works of art work very similar. There seems to be some sort of script that we follow in order to operate in society.
Even if we don’t follow any script that has been given to us from the outside, there is always an internal construction of who we are, an identity. We can change this construction, but we can never get rid of it. This is why there is always a reinvention and not a suppression of the self. Ideally, a self that is flexible, comprehensive and compassionate.
We possess hyper complex structures that allow us to create our own self, we are autopoietic beings (from auto-self, and poiesis-creation). We create unique entities, with unique stories within a broader story. This means that we, as individual, have three functions, as described by the Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri: as agents, authors and actors. As agents, we execute the actions; as authors, we choose creatively over other possible actions; and as actors, we are inscribed in a broader reality that surpass us, but where we can make an impact.
Just like the “pure” reality can never be seen because it is seen in a particular way (with our eyes, a specific band of colors, etc.), we can never be without a mask. Behind every mask there is a mask. What mask do we want to wear? Personally, I wish to wear a magical one.
When somebody asks us: who are you? We respond with our name, or occupation and things of that sort. But why don’t we say that we are someone who dreams of such things? Why don’t we respond that we are a child of the universe who dances to the sound of the singing air? Why don’t we respond that we are, under construction?
Here is an excerpt of a poem by Amado Nervo:
Because I see at the end of my rough way
that I was the architect of my own destiny
and if I extracted the sweetness or the bitterness of things
it was because I put the sweetness or the bitterness in them
when I planted rose bushes I always harvested roses