Tinkerbell, Egoism and the Structure of the Self Part 3: Conclusions
I believe, that at least initially, there is a “me” at the heart of self. I think there is a core nature that is built upon by experiences, ambitions and decisions. I think that throughout life the self does alter as a result of time, experience and acts of the will – but there is a continuity of biology, personality, and memory.
While I was initially dismayed when Tinkerbell’s career choice was set out before her with a sense of doom and inevitability, I have since thought that there was some sense and pragmatism about it. I have met many young people with ambitions that are NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I know plenty of people who are about my height and are therefore NEVER GOING TO BE A SUPERMODEL. We are limited by reality, no matter the content of our dreams.
I am reminded of poor old Jay Gatsby:
Gatsby turned out all right at the end. It was what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams…
Gatsby had a dream: he was not “true to himself” – he was true to one of his stack of past selves – true to a fragment of memory that consumed him in his present. He created a new self to be the man he thought he should be to achieve his goal. It didn’t work out well.
Maybe the self sets out to be a continuum – from the starter-self in MacCaig’s Russian-doll-style Build-your-own-farm set all the way to the idea of a future where there is a theoretical potential for the fulfilment of a dream – almost all of which are cut off by death, taxes and other inevitabilities.
“And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The narrator can see that the current of time, reality, death and inability will push us backwards – keeping the goals out of reach – but seems to suggest that perseverance towards our dreams is our default condition. Perhaps we need our dreams to define us.
As for ambitions, here are a couple of relevant quotes from the bible that I like:
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
I Thessalonians Ch 4 vs 11-12
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Philippians Ch 2 vs 3-5
In conclusion, I’ll do my best to help the Tinkerbells in my life follow their dreams, I’ll trade any egoism for an attempt to be true to Christ’s self, and I’ll see myself as a cross between MacCaig’s farm and F Scott Fitzgerald’s boat.
I just hope that I have only fairy dust floating in my wake.