the multitude of selves

Am I changing? Is a man’s character changeable? Imagine an immortal. Revolting to think he might be making the same old boo-boos over the centuries. To think of the immortal on his 700,552nd birthday still touching the plate even when someone has told him it’s hot – surely we have deep capacity for change but our 80 years doesn’t give us ample opportunity. You have to be a fast learner. You have to cram infinity into a handful of lousy decades.
This morning passed horribly deformed beggar who was for all practical purposes merely a torso rattling a cup. Was it really me who have him 100 francs & said Take the day off? It wasn’t me, not exactly. It was one of my selves, one of the multitudes. Some of them laugh at me. Others bite their nails in suspense. One snorts with derision. That’s how they are, the multitudes. Some of the selves are children & some are parents. That’s why every man is his own father & his own son. With the years if you learn enough you can learn how to shed your selves like dead skin cells. Sometimes they come out of you & walk around.
Yes I’m changing. Change is when new selves come into foreground while others recede into forgotten landscapes. Maybe definition of having lived full life is when every citizen in the hall of selves gets to take you for a spin, the commander the lover the coward the misanthrope the fighter the priest the moral guardian the immoral guardian the lover of life the hater of life the fool the judge the jury the executioner, when every last soul is satisfied at moment of death. If only one of the selves has been nothing but a spectator or a tourist then the life is incomplete.

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

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