THE LIMITLESS SELF.
“Who are you ?“
“Who? Me? Who am I? Why, I am the man who was five times elected the mayor of Podunk. That’s who I am.”
“And who are you ?“ I asked a rather ragged looking woman.
“Oh, I am the wash-lady,” she answers.
“I am a sales-girl in the big department store across the street,” says another.
I asked a little child, “Who are you ?“ and it answered, “Who am I? Why, why, I’m just me.”
“Well, but what is me ?“ And he looks puzzled, and up and down, and gives it up. But he is sure he is me and nobody else.
The five-times elected man has crystallized into a mayor; the woman who does washing has crystallized as a washing machine; the sales-girl has settled into a mere part of the great selling-machine across the street.
Only the child knows that me is undefined, undefinable, unconfined, limitless.
But he doesn’t know that he knows it. Consequently as he grows up he becomes so interested in what he has done that he thinks it is himself. He has grown legs and arms, a teacupful of brains, a little knowledge and a reputation, and when you ask him who he is, he thinks of himself as a mixture of legs, arms, brains, doings and reputation. He is limited in his own estimation by what he has done. He remembers it all. Every time he says “I” he sees a panorama of things he has done, or has failed to do. He is little or great, a failure or a success, according to his depreciation or appreciation of what he has done.
The child has forgotten his past. When he says “I” he defines nothing. He sees simply a rosy nebulous mist ‘out of which worlds and other wonders may be formed. There is to him nothing formed and fixed. He is a glorious and untrammeled