Guest Post – Self In A Pocket

The following article first appeared within The Logogryph a blog written by Tom Wharton in Edmonton, Canada. I must say the idea embodied in this post caught my attention, in a thoughtful kinda way. As does much of what Tom writes. He lectures on creative writing and is a published author, so I feel I have no place to be making even basic edits. Capital letters at the start of paragraphs for example. So it comes to you as is.

biking in the hot sun, legs pedaling, breath like swift waves rushing in and out, heart bumping around in its bone room, remembering a half-waking dream last night in which I saw one of my characters set aside some small part of herself, I can’t be very clear about what this “part” was or where it came from, it was more an idea than something concrete that I could “see” (but then again maybe that’s what all dream images are — more suggestions to the mind than actual experiences), she was putting part of herself into a secret pocket, a kind of little bag like kids put marbles in (back when kids actually collected marbles), and when I woke up I thought well, that was a rather clichéd symbol about the hidden part of oneself, the part we don’t let others see (as often happens when one’s thoughts are flooded by the aquatic emotions / impulses of the half-dreaming state, trite ideas seem profound and original and brimming with meaning, but quickly cool and go brittle in the cold light of waking consciousness).

but just now, on the bike, in the heat, crossing a busy intersection with the sun flashing off car metal and people streaming along the sidewalks and me with my own streaming, flashing thoughts zinging along in my head, the idea of someone setting aside or pocketing a part of the self merged with the sensations of biking, and for a moment there were just the sensations themselves, without inner commentary, without past or future, and the thing kept in the pocket was Self … itself. I can’t explain it very well at all, I’m afraid, because it wasn’t an idea exactly. It was a momentary image with no labels on it, and if I try to explain it or conceptualize it, I’m only going to kill it. But what the heck:

There is a physical body, and a consciousness, and a stream of moment-by-moment experience, and in a secret pocket there is a self, like a favourite marble or an ID card or a passport. Always carry it with you because you never know when you’ll need to prove that you are. Not who you are, but that you are.

And then the insight was gone. The intersection was crossed, the passport was checked and stamped, the thought dissolved into other thoughts, the stream flowed on….

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