The answer to that depends on what we mean by “I.” During a good portion of my day, I’m very aware of “me,” the human being who was born a few decades ago, who had particular childhood and adult experiences. A good deal of the time, those experiences seem very personal and overwhelmingly real. “Of course they’re real,” I think.
But there are times when I’m not looking out through the eyes of “me.” There are times when the notion of “me” seems to have little charge. I’m surprised sometimes at how easy it would be to let go of it, to let it fall back into the energy of unrealized potential – or whatever energy goo our lives fall back into when they are behind us altogether.
When I was a teenager and later a young adult, I fealt threatened by the notion of having my life wash out like a rain drop into the ocean. I feared that would be obliteration – the death that some see as simply the lights going out.
Now, when I consider the idea of my life washing out into the ocean, it seems a blessed relief. The personal “me” is useful. It’s a tool. The experiences in our lives – in any one of our lives – are rich and colorful. But less and less do I see them as personal. My life is all our lives. I don’t own it, I don’t hold it, I simply use it.
Some say the “me” doesn’t exist, that it’s an illusion. Oh, it exists all right, but you don’t have to identify it as who you are. Who I am has moved on, or has always been beyond. I’m not sure. But I know the lights can’t go out on the who I experience now.