A Road to Consciousness
Reflecting on my life in my 78th year my earliest memories are when I became “conscious” of things around me; my parents, the house I lived in, the garden and streets I played in, the family dog and my favourite toys. My experience of this early “consciousness” in my first three years was encountering things, people and surroundings that were not me – no more than that.
Very soon I started to experience the impact these early encounters had on me. I started to experience a whole range of emotions from happiness, excitement, fear, love, doubt, pride, frustration, anger, embarrassment, fun, safety and danger, which started to shape the way I engaged with my circumstances. I don’t recall “consciously” experiencing these emotions. It was more a reaction based response of resistance or engagement; “I like that” or “I don’t like that.”
By the time I started school in my fifth year I started to become attentive to what situations I was okay with and could handle, and which ones were uncertain and potentially upsetting or threatening.
This then developed into a much longer “learning” phase, probably into my twenties, during which I became more and more adept at recognising which experiences I could manage and which ones I struggled with. During this phase I also started to recognise and draw conclusions about my capabilities and strengths, and my limitations and weaknesses as a person. This was heavily influenced and often reinforced by those who I considered authority figures (teachers, parents and elders), and by comparing myself with others who were better or worse than me in the various activities and examinations that I went through.