The Unexamined Life… and All That Jazz

It’s odd I’d never thought about my own thought processes before. My thoughts, though I knew they were fallible, were just statements about the world. They lay dormant until some stimulus made them leap into being, as if in alarm, the way a harsh light sweeping through a room casts shadow-patterns on a wall. I made no attempt to be aware of why I thought, so these pedestrian and obvious conclusions were a revelation to me, or a Pandora’s box, depending on how you looked at it.

For example, low self-esteem could explain my tendency to cringe away from my own memories. My short term memory is rubbish but I like it like that. As each moment becomes memory I hurriedly ditch it and rush on to the present, like a student dealer dropping is stash as he runs from the police. Like most men, I’m a creature of the eternal present, and that suits me fine.

Remembering anything from my past makes me feel ashamed: all my memories contain me, not necessarily doing anything wrong – just being an asshole. I hadn’t been aware I even felt like this, let alone thought why.

At Ascot House, they give you a workbook to fill in when you don’t have workshops. I guess it’s supposed to stimulate self-analysis, because pages have titles such as Who am I? “What sort of a question is that?” I asked myself, with rhetorical derision, before dismissively dashing off a list of the most negative accusations I could think of. I quite enjoyed it.

Why, though, did I choose insulting myself as my mode of dismissal? Was I trying to prove that self-analysis only led to self-harm?

Then again, these were all characteristics I fear could be attributed to me. Maybe I hoped, by setting them all down, in a self-hating frenzy, and seeing them in the smallness of their written form, I’d convince myself of how unnecessary, indulgent and self-absorbed such perceptions were, as a friend might do, if you confided in them. (I’m sure you’ve spotted the flaw in this project, though – why it contains the seeds of its own destruction: “indulgent”? “self-absorbed”?)

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