Your Short Term and Long Term Self 


 Colin Wilson writes about the difference between one's short term self and a long term self

 Your short term self is that self which, is, of course, going to run down and run out. It’s going to die - to put it bluntly - no matter how hard you try to build it up. As Psalm 90 states: ’the human being's usual allotment is 70 years or so - maybe 80, if you’re a little stronger.' 

 This temporal self is not built to last. It’s here today and gone tomorrow. 

 But there’s another self, your long term self - an often neglected self - that sages and seers have always claimed has some some kind of future, some kind of potential, some kind of ability to endure. 

 With the condition that we awaken to its presence within. We have to recognize and realize that Self within.

 Otherwise it will be like it is not even there. It will be only a sleeping potential or possibility and hardly a vital force.

 Thus your long term self has been described as a dormant energy, coiled up and cramped, needing to be stirred. 

 Your long term self, in other words, is not already formed. It’s a power or force within that needs to be set on fire. 

 There is a very real sense therefore that if your long term self has not been lit up, that you yourself have not yet appeared. Something else instead has taken its place and has taken over. Some lesser identity. 

 There’s some kind of short term self that has toppled, or up ended you, leaving you out of touch with what’s essential. 

 In a very real sense, it is as if nobody is there when the inner fire is not burning. There is just someone walking around, doing this or that, but merely existing, not living. Some kind of non-presence, though perhaps incredibly noisy!

 And therefore if the eternal dimension of the long term self is ignored, you can expect to find that all kinds of small, short term selves will be getting more attention than they deserve.

 One of these dominating short term selves may be your staged self. This was Robin William’s specialty - an almost imcomparable great funny man performance. But alas, as Robin himself testified in an interview with David Frost - when he wasn’t on stage, he didn’t know how to live with himself.

 Off stage, his act was to fall into depression - to drug himself with cocaine and to be therefore, hell to live with. 

 It is, I think, a great question to ask: What short term self has got a hold of me right now? Am I, for instance, all about performing in the sense that I’m all smiles in public, but a schmuck at home? I mean, who and what am I  when the lights are turned off?

 What level of self is realized then in the dark, especially at around two or three in the morning? Is there then a sense of an eternal self, a long term self?

 Or it may be, secondly, that a short term social self takes over and wipes out any sense of a deeper and truer Self.

 As someone said about his mother at Christmas. 'She gets like this every year. She splits off from herself into some kind of stressed, frenzied mode of being.'

 'We call it her headless chicken routine. She runs around in a panic.'

 'She never appears to find inspiration at Christmas, but is worn out by it.' 

 Or, thirdly, it might be said that my short term self is a kind of robot self as I live as if on automatic pilot. I’m not living. The robot is living my life for me.

 Now, however, there may be in contrast to these short term selves, certain moments of intensity - moments of illumination - when everything that’s been scattered comes together. 

 There are moments when I cohere. 

 Samadhi, the Yogis call it. It’s a state of no more inner division or conflict. All the parts of me agree with each other and my life becomes symphonic. 

 These are moments when I experience what Colin Wilson calls affirmation consciousness.

 In such moments, there is a taste of that long term sense of self which is "not hemmed in by immediacies and entanglements, a self which is aware of purpose, and of otherwise dormant values, of strength and durability.” (Gary Lachman)

 In such a state, there is a taste of freedom and of immortality.

 "It is the self Proust knows when he tastes his madeleine dipped in herbal tea, or what Hesse’s Steppenwolf knows when he drinks a glass of wine and decides not to slit his throat.” (G.L.)

 "It’s the self that rises above the vicissitudes of life and realizes the ‘absurd good news’ that all is well. 

 No one in fact, say the sages and seers, can ever really be free unless he enters that deeper dimension of the long term Self.

 And therefore these men and women of wisdom encourage us to make the discovery of that Self, the true aim of our lives - our greatest wish, or one true wish

 The teaching of the wise is to encourage a laser-like focus upon the one thing needful. 

 My sense is that in our day to day relations that we are having either an elevating or diminishing effect.

 Do we expand or shrink the people around us? 

 Which self is it that primarily gets our attention, the short term self or the long term self?