Everyone has one. It could very well be one of the most complex uncertainties of the human condition; it contends questions of consciousness, of self-awareness and requires delicacy, as our relation to it has the power to position us as individuals in relation to our worlds. Writing about this heart cave - or inner self - seems almost counter-intuitive as it is ineffable. But I believe there is a point in everyones lives where they begin a conversation with this inner self, where you begin to approach and discover its boundaries whilst simultaneously trying to preserve its mysteries.
When people say you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else, what does that actually mean? The other day I asked a colleague who is not much older than I am if it's difficult being married at such a young age, and her only response was: "yes but you truly have to know yourself before doing something like this". In both of these instances there is an emphasis on a certain selfhood that somehow discontinues the conversation. At this point, it is almost a given that this is something that can be achieved. Our inner self becomes a truism. I don't think it is an achievable goal, or something that can be understood indefinitely. In the same way that Socrates' wisdom was only valuable in his awareness that he could not know everything, our inner selves have no defining structure - they are something that we explore without end throughout our lives. Our understanding of this inner self fluctuates and grows in different dimensions, at different points in our lives. At some point in our lives we may feel extremely close to it where, during others, it may be the most puzzling and daunting concept.
If there is anything that I have learned, it is that this inner self is strongly linked to a sense of privacy. Not the conventional and slightly more politically charged idea of privacy (censorship, etc.), rather, the intrinsic privacy of this selfhood. It is simply something that you can't share with others, and if it is lost in others, it can begin to feel like this sense of self is too externally exposed. I read a beautiful article about Virginia Woolf's Idea of Privacy that intimately laced these two concepts together. The struggle of trying to know our inner selves versus keeping them at a distance to preserve life's mysteries is concluded with this quote:
"There is no final, satisfying way to balance our need to be known with our need to be alone. The balance is always uncertain and provisional; it is always a matter of dissatisfactions, give-and-take, and sacrifice... It's up to each of us to balance the risks and rewards--to trade, in right proportion, loneliness for freedom, explicability for mystery, and the knowable for the unknown within ourselves."
Understanding parts of our inner selves, and gaining a stronger sense of self is about balance. It is us trying to establish an evenness between our values and our desires--our values being a strong sense of self and our desires being what mystifies this sense of self. Being grounded with your head in the sky. Acknowledging this struggle for balance keeps us at a comfortable distance with our inner selves, and at the same time asking ourselves questions (daily? weekly? periodically?) that bring us closer to understanding our core - our heart cave.
And that's all for now, and it is enough.