08 March 2010

Lesson #21: I am the sum of many parts.

This is true for every person I know, though I probably don't appreciate it for everyone.  We can be more than the sum of our parts.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting around thinking... a potentially dangerous activity, but necessary... and I let my mind wander.  I started thinking about legos, blocks, and tinkertoys, and all the fun things I used to play with as a kid.  I thought about how all of these parts could be assembled to make different things, depending on if I felt like following a set of directions.  Sometimes the experiments worked, sometimes they didn't.  And then there were the times a piece of the set got lost or broken.  I couldn't build what I wanted.  I had to adapt another piece, or just change my plans entirely.

I feel this way.  As a person.  As a being.

It's tempting to go down a different road, and focus on the idea that we are 'more than' the sum of our parts.  And this is true, but not in the way I at least used to think.  I used to be more concerned with the nature of that 'more than'... a soul?  A conscience?  A consciousness?  I don't really feel like going further down that road, and it's not truly how I feel. 

I feel like I am made up of many parts.  And when they work together, like they're supposed to, I can become something more.

This came out, in the following thought-dump:
"We are made up of many parts/experiences. Those pieces can be broken, misaligned, misplaced, or forgotten. But what's important is to realize when this happens, and arrange them back in a way that's better, so we become whole, more than the sum of those parts alone. It's scary to redefine yourself and start again. But getting there, or even starting to get there, feels good."

...yes, I just quoted myself.  On blogger, and possibly with air-quotes.  You'll never really know, will you?

But on to the point.  Think of it this way.  Every aspect of my personality has the potential to be positive or negative. Those aspects sit on a balance.  Based on the thoughts I create, my intentions, the choices I make, my actions and reactions, those aspects will move either toward the positive, or to the negative.  Experiences go the same way.  There will be good things, and bad things. 

Good will not eliminate bad.  Positive will not erase negative.  But they can balance each other.

The night I wrote that thought dump, I was feeling like a stack of blocks.  I had been assembled, not in a perfect wall, but in a recognizable one. Then the wall was knocked down.  Blocks went everywhere.  Some were probably lost under the couch, along with the tinkertoys, the legos, the single sock that goes missing in the dryer.  I didn't know how to put it back together.  

But then I realized that the parts were still there.  I could control them - maybe not their presence, as it's impossible to 'undo' something, but I could control if I learned from the negative/bad, create something positive or good that would help balance the things I didn't like.  I felt, then, that it wasn't impossible.  I could rebuild the wall.  It might not be the same; blocks would be in different places, and I might have to improvise the design.  But if I was careful, and mindful, and determined, I could create something from the mess that was complete, maybe even better than what was before. 

In fact, this process was long overdue.

I like this way of defining myself.  It acknowledges all of the parts of my life, the ones of which I am proud, and otherwise.  It emphasizes balance.  It allows room to grow.  It keeps me from forgetting (ie, throwing away) the bad experiences or choices, which would keep me from learning.  And it makes the process of redefining myself, starting over, much less scary.  And creating a new self is frightening.  It's so easy to slip into bad or destructive habits, just because they're comfortable, the known, the status quo.  Changing myself means changing who I am, how I relate to the world, how I relate to others.  That's a big fat unknown.

But I already know the parts.  They're familiar.  They're me.  And as I figure out what to do with them, how to put them in the right arrangement, they'll start to come together, work with me instead of against me.  And I know things are going to work out. 

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