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Who do we talk to when we talk to ourselves? And don’t say, “No one.” And don’t say, “Myself.” Ah, unless you know your self, of course.
I don’t completely know who I am yet, so when I talk aloud to myself I am discovering who I want to be.
Oh, and I only do it while alone of course, except for the occasional, “You’ve got to be kidding!” at some outrageous driver who cuts me off, only usually it’s much worse than that. And it changes nothing.
My favorite places to converse alone are in my garage and my car, and not when they’re in the same space. In my garage it’s usually “Stupid, stupid cigarette!” on a cold freezing day. It took me years not to blame my smoking habit on cigarettes or the legality of selling them. “Oh, if they just didn’t sell ‘em I wouldn’t buy ‘em,” I’d say. That’s stupid too, of course.
In my car I’m free to observe aloud and comment on anything and everything, to muse and conjecture, plot and plan my next moves, and even pray. Oh how many of the world’s problems I’ve solved in my car! If only someone would listen, of course. That means someone in authority with the power to effect change, but these days that usually takes many people from the clerks up to the highest leaders. Certainly musing aloud about it in the car or kibitzing with friends doesn’t solve poverty, but at least others are also taking steps toward that laudable goal.
So I am free to rave and rant, curse and praise, admire and detest alone in the enclosed cockpit of my car. Luckily, it’s changed over months and years as I’ve grown more observant, more able to listen, more tolerant and more open. It has definitely been a process, as is everything, for I, like you, certainly do not know everything.
I’ve learned that adding my voice to choruses of others does have an effect—just not in the rapid time span I envisaged. It’s still a matter of reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.
But by talking to myself first I work out the pros and cons of my ideas, the plusses and minuses, the works and won’t works, and mainly, I’ve become one heck of a philosopher, or so I like to think.
But when I really think about it, the True Philosopher always has the real wisdom.
For example: the Baha’i teachings ask us to overlook the faults of others, and see their virtues. On the other hand, they ask us to find our own faults, and concentrate our efforts on addressing our own spiritual growth. Baha’u’llah says in the Hidden Words:
O Son of Being! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me. – p. 10.
The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others. – p. 45.
Abdu’l-Baha gave us the same basic advice:
Let your life be an emanation of the Kingdom of Christ. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. … In the religion of Baha’u’llah all are servants and maidservants, brothers and sisters. As soon as one feels a little better than, a little superior to, the rest, he is in a dangerous position, and unless he casts away the seed of such an evil thought, he is not a fit instrument for the service of the Kingdom.
Dissatisfaction with oneself is a sign of progress… If a person has a thousand good qualities he must not look at them; nay, rather he must strive to find out his own defects and imperfections. …However much a man may progress, yet he is imperfect, because there is always a point ahead of him. No sooner does he look up towards that point than he becomes dissatisfied with his own condition, and aspires to attain to that. Praising one’s own self is the sign of selfishness. – Star of the West, Volume 4, pp. 179-180.
So, I talk to myself, whoever that may be at the moment, and test out my theories of life in the privacy of my chambers, confident that someone, or some part of me, is always listening—listening and learning from the world, the largest echo chamber known to Man.