We think, act and feel without understanding precisely what it is that makes us act, feel or think the way we do. It is difficult to understand why we became accustomed to our visions of, and opinions about, life. We find ourselves into narratives others have created for us and have to find ourselves within these accustomed stories that maybe are not as familiar as we would like to believe. To extract ‘the impersonal’ out of this familiarity and bring it towards the narrative we identify with is difficult.
As physical beings, we become a person and during life we try to keep up with that conception. We are conceived to then conceive ourselves. When we are born, someone else has already imagined us. This pre-imagination initiates a life to become your life to then be re-imagined as a life somehow different from that one. The better the ‘proper’ narrative fits, the less conflict will occur; the idea of exclusion fits an idea of inclusion in safeguarding experiences of certain values and goals.
In the routine of daily life rarely attention focuses on the premises that gave raise to those values. We might say that the value doesn’t remember where it came from and neither can it be understood why it is believed, though those values seem to constitute a rather important playground for our narratives. Previous ideas are exactly those we use to inhabit our narratives and comprehend the narratives of others - the abstract building blocks we identify with.
Strangely, we are tempted to identify with something we didn’t imagine ourselves but are willing to see ourselves, and others, in that picture. The picture is to always have a picture: without a picture we fall out of identification, one of the greatest human fears. In the absorption of many narratives deposited into many values, a person has to find, create and become in a universe. In such situations we start to understand the difficulty involved in coming to ones senses. ‘We are born as a person but it is difficult to die as a person.’
Changing your personal narrative means taking considerable responsibility while undertaking a flight into the unknown. A change of narrative doesn’t solely involve doubt and questioning life as a whole; it means searching to apply those doubts into a life for which there are no alternatives at hand. Altering ones narrative is a struggle with estrangement. Somehow the narrative is pulled into a need to not safeguard former descriptions; it is a profound surrender towards the unknown. This is why such change provokes perplexity, a state of being that is needed to avoid ending thinking (too quickly). Perplexity indicates a pause to identify things and put them into the proper narrative, inevitably postponing the identification of those narratives thought by others.
Imagining narratives is our tool to relate ourselves in a world; our capability to weave things together. It is the human way to give a sense to Life. Now if this weaving is used to confirm the best copy of what we think is a good picture, we are not truly weaving the relations ourselves but only those that serve a particular purpose: the picture orders the weaving. Any perplexity that arises during this kind of weaving is due to estrangement from that picture; it cannot but pull the proper confusion back into that picture.
Yet you cannot simultaneously weave a picture while not affirming it, even though you’re still weaving. Such weaving is of changing phenomena and every confusion that arises cannot be drawn back into the picture but only into the weaving. When you no longer work with static images, you are forced to dismantle the rigidity of your perception. This is the moment that imagination can truly break loose.
Long ago, we identified with the mammoth we killed to provide shelter, clothes, food and sacrifice: however the mammoth was standing next to us. Our relation was then rather direct. Today, when we’re asked to give opinions about world politics and economics, we witness visions from others all over the globe; but this is an abstraction of which our lives have become another instantiation. It seems awfully frightening to become aware of this picture; the awareness involves envisioning your proper narrative placed onto those ‘impersonal’ building blocks that have become more abstract then ever before and of which it seems we don’t want to separate ourselves. What tricks us is that the picture enigmatically provides an idea for the worthiness of our life. But upon what exactly have we placed that worthiness?
An important question to pose might be whether we are capable to keep track with those narratives that gave raise to our visions about life? We identify with those abstractions, we have feelings, opinions about, one might say, almost everything. Maybe we overestimate what we know in those narratives and lack humility in recognising what we can know.
Is the vision of our lives in which we overcome (and thus embrace) insecurity something too abstract to be imagined? Must we accept to live lives based on an abstraction that is far beyond our own imagination? Or dare we enter into a deep crisis of the kind hinted at by Nietzsche when he has the madman warn:
“ ...what did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun?”
The challenge, as Zarathustra might have expressed it, is to try to relate our own, proper narratives to our suns.