I’ve read that being a child is like being on psychadelic drugs. You don’t have any real sense of individuality. You mostly experience life moment to moment, sensation to sensation. You take in your surroundings for what they are, without much questioning or criticism.
I tend to agree with this comparison. I’ve never taken psychadelic drugs, but this description of what it’s like to be a child rings true.
I remember the first few times when I looked in the mirror and really thought about the fact that what I was looking at was “me.” That I wasn’t watching some sort of dream, but that this was reality. I really existed, and the body I saw was not only something I inhabited, but also the entirety of what others perceived me as, the entirety of what I considered to be myself. I really experienced the strangeness of it. Of existence. It felt odd, so odd, being this conscious thing, being in this specific body, at this specific point in time, at this specific location in the universe. I felt, if I concentrated on this strangeness, that it was something I was experiencing right now, but that it was not me. I felt that I had existed before being this person with this body and this genetic code and this history, and that I would exist after. Not as someone else. But as the real me, rather than as this specific version of myself.
I distinctly remember experiences like this from when I was young. Even though many of my early memories are vague, faded, or lost altogether, I remember this still. I can conjure the very same emotions and sensations as I write this. It seems like I would have to take some sort of drug to have thoughts like this, to really believe them to some extent, and yet, I don’t. I am, to the best of my knowledge, sober, lucid, sane, and well-rested.
It’s a mystery to me. Being, existing, consciousness. It was then and it is now. A strange, terrible, wonderful mystery. It would not at all surprise me if our understanding of reality turns out to be completely wrong. In fact, I both hope and have faith that there is more to the story.