Musings on the Self


You want to find some sort of meaning or purpose to life – but where to look? Where can you find yourself?

Well, I don’t know. But perhaps the key is to listen, not look?

What do I mean? Should one rely on one’s ears as opposed to one’s trusted eyes? Although it may indeed be the case that modern society appears consumed by visual fixation, the kind of listening that I wish to convey here (as opposed to looking) perhaps serves as more of a loose analogy.

The distinction I have in mind is closer to the classic active/passive distinction – at least in some respects. When plagued by questions about the self and desperate pleas for meaning we often run out into the world, upturning metaphorical stones in what might seem like a targeted quest to an ignorant onlooker, but which strays far from such direction in truth. We look for meaning, understanding of the self, whatever you might care to call it – but we don’t quite know what we’re actually looking for. And, coupled with this, the world is abound with complexity, rendering even a partly targeted search of looking impossible, lost in the midst of overwhelming volumes of data.

So – what do I mean by listening? As touched on above, listening rather refers to a passive immersion in the world and the self. This is certainly not a condemnation of active pursuits in life – no, this simply regards the self.

The listener journeys through their life, immersing themselves in the world – their world – whatever that may be (a personal concoction of people, nature, literature, music,…). The self is experienced, it is tested with the advent of new experiences – again, whatever they may be – and the listener grows to know the self over time. Oh, time, that fickle thing (perhaps I should capitalise him – he yearns to be capitalised…).

Let me close with another analogy. Consider a leaf. How can you hope to understand it? How can you know its meaning, as it were? You might try to look at it. You might try placing it under a microscope, recording the positions and relative momenta of the individual cells that compose it. You might try to delve down deeper and attempt to decompose the DNA. Given limitless time, limitless motivation and limitless resources, you might succeed in being satisfied in understanding it sufficiently. Given some time, you might gain a useful approximation – why, it may be useful for very many things. But the nature of the entirety still lies rather hidden before you.

Maybe, though, you listen to the leaf. You listen to its story, you carry it with you – you listen to the whispers of the weathered tree that birthed it. Your affinity with it grows and meaning blossoms forth from the gathering tale, quivering beneath the surface. Much akin to the name heard by the sleeping mind in Rothfuss’s brilliant The Wise Man’s Fear.

That leaf is your self. Listen.


This is the first blog post I’ve written in this style – I don’t quite know how it’ll be received! I just felt like sharing this beautiful snapshot of a search we’re all immersed in, sometimes more or less than else-when…

You might like to look at the most recent poem I found myself writing, Lost – perhaps the works will shed some more light on each other?

~ Jordan Strobach-Morris, 27.03.2016


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