Nothing fills life with more wonder than our five senses. Each of them is a theme park of adventure and discovery. Separate and interactive, they not only make life worth living but also, each in its own way, enriches it beyond belief. Yet many tend to take them for granted, to let them “do their thing” and rarely take time to consciously appreciate their complexities as well as their priceless gifts.
Each sense offers a perspective all its own, sometimes in tandem with the others, that is unique to every individual. A masterpiece in art or music, or sculpted, a gourmet dish or exquisite garment allow the senses to celebrate themselves in so many different ways and bring countless pleasures to the human experience.
And so it is with self. Like the senses every self provides a perspective on life all its own. But how many of us ever think to explore, wonder at appreciate and improve who we are and how we function? Socrates said at his trial that “the unexamined life is not worth living;” he should have added, “So why am I being harassed for believing self is worth knowing?”
Four words provide a focus for examining a life and getting to know self: Identity, truth, belief and becoming.
Identity is the core gift of life. In our humanness we too often and thoughtlessly distort that identity with poor choices, denial, resentment, abuse and grandiosity, shortchanging our responsibility and challenge to be one-of-a-kind. Therein lies the work of any lifetime,
Truth begins with acceptance of that Identity, claiming the good and taming our impulses. Truth requires us to embrace who we are with love, owning the gift and using our talents to make life meaningful. Honesty enables growth and change; what’s wrong becomes right, what’s good becomes better. Truth and knowing go hand-in-hand when life is working well,
Belief is that part of any self that motivates and helps us to tolerate and try to explain the shadows of not-knowing. It is something more than dreaming, connecting us with our origins and, ideally, one another.
Becoming is all about the journey from Now to Wherever. To examine a life means living into questions, as Socrates did. It is the energy in honest questions that keeps Being becoming and making any and every life worth living.
Self, the sixth sense, is a wonder land to be explored. Getting to know the workings of self, as with the other senses, can make any life not only more livable but meaningful beyond measure.