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Being Original!

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Being Original!

The what-ifs along the way.
Eldon  Taylor
Eldon Taylor More by this author
May 24, 2011 at 10:00 AM

My favorite question nowadays is this: “What was your last truly original thought?” It is always followed by silence. Think about it: Everything from your favorite color to the way you walk and talk has been influenced by your culture and by association with something you like or dislike on the basis of acceptability.

For example, it’s hard to find a so-called rugged American male who maintains that his favorite color is pink. Parents choose blue for boys and pink for girls, and they do so because they’ve been convinced that those colors are gender appropriate. In this way, almost subliminally, we’re the product of the beliefs of others. Listen to any conversation and you find talk of the news, politics, entertainment, movies, unemployment, prosperity, and on and on. Where in that conversation are the original human beings and their unique thoughts?

What if you were shipwrecked, like the FedEx employee played by Tom Hanks in the gripping movie Castaway? Alone on an island, Hanks invents a friend by painting a face on a volleyball and naming it Wilson, from the brand name on the ball. Toward the end of the film, Hanks panics when Wilson falls into the sea.

We’re herd animals, and we do need social support, but do we require it so much that we take no time for self-reflection? When we were children, did we need to invent playmates in order to avoid ourselves, or, alternatively, were we learning about ourselves through our imaginary friends?

What would you do if you were shipwrecked on an island? Would you begin talking to yourself, making up friends, or could you spend time getting to really know yourself? Being alone is difficult for many—it’s almost like forced solitary confinement. How long do you think you could be happy by yourself?

My Trip to the Desert

I was once encouraged to go into the desert alone and take nothing with me—no wallet, no ID, no money—just me, some water, and trail mix. At the time, I really didn’t know much about the desert other than what I’d seen in movies or on television and what I’d read about. I was raised along the Rockies, so as a boy I’d spent a good deal of time in the mountains but never the desert. I suppose, in hindsight, the desert was suggested so that I wouldn’t know what to expect. I would be out of my element.

When we’re in unfamiliar surroundings, with strangers or all alone in an unknown environment, a certain innocence emerges from beneath the outward image we project. This tends to make us feel uncertain, and we’re therefore able to see anew that we aren’t what we project at all. What’s important here is the idea that we might have to go to some lengths to get out of our own way in order to find ourselves.

Socrates’ admonition regarding the unexamined life implies the necessity of investigating ourselves. Looking at what we’ve done, what we’ve experienced, what our thoughts have been, the people we’ve known, our innermost secrets, what we believe, who has influenced us and why, and so much more is requisite to understanding ourselves. There’s great truth in the axiom “Know thyself.”

What if you had the opportunity to really get to know yourself? Would you take it? We have that chance every day, but the question is, how many of us actually use it? What if we all dedicated some part of each day to knowing ourselves—would the world be different?

About Author
Eldon  Taylor
Eldon Taylor is an award winning, New York Times best selling author of over 300 books, and audio and video programs. He is the inventor of the patented InnerTalk technology and the founder and President of Progressive Awareness Research. He h Continue reading