Dying to self used to mean something much more spiritual to me. It was a way to be as godly as I could. “Look at me and how I don’t give in to my vices and impurities!” In the religious circles I found myself in, this was a powerful phrase. To die to one’s self was a noble task, one that glorified god and brought a smile to his face. Really what it meant for the majority of us was: don’t keep going to your favorite website and touching your dick, or forgive when Karen says you shouldn’t let little Timmy play on his iPad at his age while she rolls her eyes at you, or pray for the lifted Toyota Tundra that just cut you off with the bumper sticker reading “America, If You Don’t Love It Then Get Out!” instead of lifting your middle finger for a greeting.
It wasn’t a dying to self, it was a modifying of self. A modification to make one appear as “put together” or a model for copying. I mean, we are God’s representatives on Earth right? What a heavy weight burrowing into people’s backs as they attempt to carry God’s reputation. My thoughts on this idea, this balance, between who we are and who we ‘should’ be, have evolved over time. There are varying angles to approach it from but one thing I have become somewhat certain of is, we are never who we ‘should’ be. And even when we are, the parade of self-righteousness comes marching down with banners of boasting and plastic smiles of pride.
Eight days into my son’s life and I caught myself thinking about the King of Monsters, Godzilla. The new film had just released into theaters the weekend my son was born. As the avid moviegoer I am, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to watch this one I had been waiting for. This obviously sounds petty but I realized this was now the time where things for me become less important. A dying of self you could call it. Only it didn’t feel that way. I used to think if I were to die to myself I would have to tell myself “no!” a lot and make sure I understood what I could and couldn’t do. It was a following of rules, a checklist of do’s and don’t’s. I had to live God’s way, how he desired us to live. Blake is gone now. But there seems to be more to the ‘self’ than just the good and bad things my hands seem to find to do.
The ‘self’ is another term for ego. Ego, sin, negative energy, toxic shit, or anything that really isn’t healthy for your life. Then there is ‘you.’ You is the inner being, the true soul of who you are. This isn’t some new information I am tapping into, it’s along the lines of what people like Freud, Jesus, Taoism and Dalai Lama have been grabbing at. Simplified there is this part of me that is drawn and attracted to things that are healthy for me and then another part of me that desires more for myself and knows what I need. For example, I could go out and drink Red Bull and Vodka’s all night with my buddies, pulling up at my house at 3:30 AM with a Swisher Sweet in my mouth. Or I could stay home with my wife and son and finish watching Coco or possibly write something. The ‘self’ would go for the first one and my ‘you’ would the second.
The first choice isn’t something really healthy for me or my family. For one, I would probably spend a ton of money which I could use for some medical bills we have. Then I am assuming I would be driving home after drinking because I become fairly confident about that when I drink. I would have missed crucial time with my son who is only nine days old now and left my wife to handle him the whole night by herself. Then come morning, I am risking what usually happens. Me at the toilet forcing out my insides and the atomic bomb testing going off in my mind. This would set me back for any writing, work out or reading I wanted to accomplish. Not to mention I am out for the count with helping again in the morning with my son and missing more time.
The second choice provides me with nasty yellow splattering in a diaper and ear piercing shrieks, but also a delightful feeling inside. A bonding experience which can’t be replaced or reproduced. I continue developing my relationship with my wife and supporting her through her breastfeeding and naps. I find some time for myself to relax, work out, or read the National Geographic that’s been sitting on my nightstand since April. I can wake up and be present immediately. Maybe even sit down and write something with a cup of coffee.
It’s obvious what the better choice would be and I’m not even tempted. It’s just a thought experiment. The point is the ‘self’ is not really me. The word sounds like it is talking about me but it is really just located inside of me. When I am taking care of ‘you’ I really am taking care of myself. I think that is what I was always confused on. Dying to self isn’t about following rules, not giving into desires you have or trying to make other people’s gods happy. It is about giving yourself life. The healthier things are nourishing for your soul, whereas the unhealthily eat away at you. You must die to the ‘self’ and join forces with the ‘you.’ Dying to self is giving to you.