Is Descartes Wrong?

I was sitting down in a restaurant this afternoon having lunch and pondering life, and I asked myself, “Who are you?” This was not a completely random thought because I have been asked quite frequently, via social media, who I am or what is it that I do. My answers have varied from person to person because I am not exactly sure if I even know. I think a major reason I left South Korea was because I was no longer able to identify who I was any more. I had let my mind concoct a phony persona for myself, and I allowed others to define who I was based on their interpretation of that persona. My mind had become my own prison, and the voice/voices in my head had become the brutal guards charged with keeping me in line.

As I sat there devouring my pasta like a ravenous beast, I started thinking about how the voice/voices in my head have generally been much quieter since I have been in Italy. These voices are being starved in a sense, given the fact that I do not have a job, or people vying for my attention or affection, or any real responsibility aside from keeping myself healthy, clean, and fed. But I had to ask myself, “Who or what are the voices in my head creating the constant mental dialogue?”

The most obvious answer was MY MIND. I recalled the observation made by Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.” If this statement is true that would mean that I am also one of those voices contributing to the dialogue within myself, but that is never how I have felt. I have always felt like the outside observer. An analogy for this would be as follows. You are dining alone in a restaurant. At the tables around you are groups of loud, somewhat obnoxious customers. They are all loudly talking, laughing, and carrying on without any concern for you or your desire for a quiet, peaceful meal. You are not by any means a participant in any of the surrounding revelries, but you are being affected by them. That is how I have always felt about my internal dialogue. I am not an active participant, but a keen observer.

The question now stood as, “If I am not one of the voices residing within my own head, then who am I?” The only conclusion I was able to draw was that I was the Being inhabiting this body, and this Being is completely separate from my mind altogether. Seeing as how I am the observer of the mental dialogue, but do not feel like it is originating from myself, then I cannot be part of the mind, but a Being who is able to hear and utilize the mind and quite possibly control it. Therefore, does this this prove Descartes’ theory inaccurate? Should it be, “I AM, therefore I think.”? I am no great philosopher or scientist, and I can’t imagine how to test my own hypothesis, but in my mind, my version just makes more sense.

Now given my own conclusion, am I able to answer the question of who I am any better than before? At the current moment I don’t think so, but I do know that I am something different and higher than the voices in my mind. What I must do next is to allow the “I” inside of me to come to the forefront instead of the carefully manufactured character my mind has made me believe I have to be in order to be liked, respected, appreciated, feared, and loved. Letting down walls has never been easy for me. Even those who believe they have broke down my wall and gotten to know me have been unaware of the second and third walls that still remained up and very much intact. Can I shatter these mythical, heavily fortified walls and let the authentic me be seen? Only time will tell, but it is on my to do list. Perhaps this is the next step I need to take in order to figure out what my purpose in life really is…

The Maze of My Mind

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