I'm not sure what I'd make of me if that wasn't who I am: me. But isn't that true of everyone, you included? (Who is the "me" to yourself, whereas I'm your "you.")
By which I mean, if I saw myself from the outside rather than the inside, I'd likely think, "Wow, that dude is weird." That indeed is how I often look upon people, both dudes and dudettes. Yet to them, they're normal and it's other folks such as me who are strange.
Today I sent off an email to a neighbor. I added some lines that had little or nothing to do with my subject. They just were on my mind after some pondering during my morning meditation time.
I've spent most of my life trying to figure out the meaning of life. Currently my theory is pretty simple: stuff happens. Then other stuff happens. Until we die. Then, maybe, or maybe not, other stuff happens. I really don't think we can control that "stuff." Just deal with it the best we can.
Now, those words make a lot of sense to me. Yet if I put myself in the shoes (or better, mind) of the person who got that email message, I'd view me as having a pretty damn depressing nihilistic philosophy of life.
That isn't true, though I do have a nihilism wristband that I wear occasionally.
I don't see "stuff happens" as negative. Rather, it is an affirmation of reality and the mystery that looms when we try to understand its depths (notwithstanding how the most famous popularizer of that phrase used it).
I'm not sure why what has already happened to me, did. I'm not sure why what lies in the future for me, will be. I'm not sure why this present moment, is.
The chains of causes and effects -- including what appears to be randomness -- linked to even the simplest event are breathtakingly beyond the complete comprehension of even the smartest people in the world, or the most advanced computers.
Yesterday I picked up some pants from a seamstress who had shortened the hems. Chatting with her as she got the bill ready, she said "You have an accent. Where did you come from?" I told her that I was born in Massachusetts, but moved to Texas early on, so maybe when I learned to talk I was influenced by accents of both east and west.
However, there's other possibilities to consider. I dimly recall speaking Spanish with a Mexican housekeeper when I was little. Perhaps my long-forgotten foray into another language affected how I talk now. Who knows?
The point is, stuff happens.
When pressed by ourselves or others to explain it, we provide stories that make greater or lesser sense depending upon the situation. If I've got a bandage around my finger and someone asks what happened, I can reasonably say "I hit myself with a hammer."
But I'll leave out "...while thinking about something other than the nail." Because once I start down the route of why's and wherefores, there's no stopping until I get to the big bang and the beginning of the universe 13.7 billion years ago.
Recently I finished reading Susan Blackmore's Ten Zen Questions. I enjoyed how seriously and energetically she dives into first-person experiencing of those queries, including "How does thought arise?", "What am I doing?", and "What happens next?"
I don't think I could ever enjoy full-blown Zen retreats such as the ones Blackmore decribes, though. Way too much ritual, rules, restrictions, and bowing before the Zen master for me. I like Zen philosophy, but Zen practitioners tend to look upon life as a koan to be solved rather than a joy to be embraced, or a mystery to be marveled at.
Nothing wrong with solutions, satori'ish or otherwise. I just have come to doubt that the meaning of life is a puzzle meant to be solved.
Which isn't much different, though, from how Blackmore sees things. Here's some quotes from the end of her book.
Things just are the way they are. Whether they could have been different I do not know, but I suspect that even asking this question does not make sense. Stuff just happens.
Indeed the fingers are typing here right now. No one is acting. I am not doing anything.
What, then, is the point of it all? What's the point in doing anything?
...Experiences and their experiencers will arise wherever and whenever there is a body capable of sensing things, and a brain capable of analyzing them, and they will last some time and disappear again.
They are now here, now there, now coming and going. I seem to be here now; but then I'm not. Something else is, and has been for some time.
...When this body dies there may be a lot of pain, a horrible last illness, the sadness of not having said all those things I wanted to say to people I loved, projects not completed, a fantasized future not to be.
But will I be snuffed out like a candle?
Yes, just as I have been a thousand, million times before. Just the same. Being born and dying again is how all life is. Birth and death are not a problem; the cycle of illusion is broken; they are just how it is.