I am always interested in how people develop their sense of self and their understanding of how they fit into the "greater picture." Following this interest, I just finished "Blue Like Jazz...Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality," by Donald Miller. Miller's book was an honest, concise, and humorous way for me to learn about how a "reasonable" man (relative to me, obviously, and by which I mean someone who recognizes various viewpoints) developed his love for Jesus. In one chapter, he describes his rough transition from living a solitary life in the woods to residing in a house with a bunch of guys in a city; in his new living arrangement, he felt entitled. He writes:
"Living in community made me realize one of my faults: I was addicted to myself...I did not understand the exchange that takes place in meaningful dialogue...it must have been painful for Tuck to try so desperately to catch my station, and for me to brush him off...I wanted efficiency in personal interaction...he felt unvalued any time he was around me. The most difficult lie I have ever contented with is this: Life is a story about me."
I'm not sure I agree with the last sentence of the above quotation. Try and follow me: when I was younger, adults would repeat maxims to me, such as "mind your own business," and "worry about yourself." Then once I started getting older, people began telling me to be considerate of the comfort and state of others, and insinuated that focusing on myself too much is selfish and unproductive to the general good. So soon enough, balancing "selfish" thought and concern for others became difficult for me. Don't you remember when you realized that one-liners adults told you don't really apply to life so easily? And let's be honest here, we eventually see that life is much more vibrant when we don't always follow rules, both those we set for ourselves, and those set for us by others (informal and formal). I suppose my point is that we need to be cautious about rules and realizations we have about life, because just when we think we "know," we get soaked with a bucket of ice cold water, sometimes in the heat of Summer, but more often in the dead of Winter.