I noticed something tonight that is bugging me. I noticed that I rarely see people. They are all around me, and I am looking, but I don’t see them. What I see is them seeing me. I think maybe I have read this before, or heard of something like it, but I can’t remember where. All I know is that that is the essence of the “meta-self.” The metaself (“meta-me”) is not the person living out my experiences, going to my job, playing with my kids, living my life. Meta-me is the one who stands above and beyond it all — watching. Meta-me is the director of the drama I am in. “Look this way. Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t say that.” Meta-me is critical and hard to please. Meta-me hates mistakes. But most of all, meta-me hates being noticed, so meta-me never walks onstage. Meta-me has no bullhorn or anything else to announce his presence. That little earpiece works just fine. The earpiece assures I hear everything meta-me has to say, and follow his every direction.
Meta-me saves my life. Meta-me keeps me from having to tell the truth. Without meta-me I’d have to say the following things.
1. I hope you are looking at me right now.
2. I hope you are thinking about me right now.
3. I hope you are impressed by me right now.
4. I hope I stand out vividly on the canvas of your mind against all others. Right now.
5. I hope I am the most valuable person you have ever met. Forever.
Meta-me helps me act as if I do not think those things. Meta-me helps me to act humble and self-effacing. Sometimes I’m pretty good at it, and then I’m especially pleased with myself.
Meta-me watches everything I do. I’m not sure if he likes me. And I’m not sure what’s in this for him. I know he’s not getting paid for it, at least not with money. But he spends a great deal of time telling me what to do, say, and think, and for only one reason — so that I do not have to let others know who I am. That is why when I write I am determined to be honest. When I write I try not to listen to meta-me, who says to me, “Don’t write that — what will people think of you?” Writing is my way of sitting in the director’s chair once in a while.
God I know you are there. I know you save people from all kinds of things. Save me from myself. Help me to learn what it feels like to look at someone without seeing myself back through their eyes — to just see them, to just love them, not for how loving that will make me look, but because they are Yours.
I don’t need you to kill meta-me. I just need you to put him out of business, by turning me into a person who loves selflessly, who thinks more of others than of myself, who would never consider myself better than anyone else. You have a big job to do.
Having said all this, I like who I am — today more than ever before. I’m probably still cocky sometimes, but not like before. I love better than I used to. And I can’t help it that I find it almost unbearable to really get close to people. As hard as it is to love, it’s even harder to accept love from others. Meta-me is never more bossy than when I’m around friends and people I love who, most likely, love me too.
And tomorrow I’ll probably read this and think to myself, “Dude, lighten up.”