In An Actor’s Tricks, Yoshi Oida speaks of how we construct our ‘sculpted’ self, the psychic edifice we fit to whatever situation we are in. Thus we discover the actor who by night craves recognition as a good waiter and who by day yearns for an audience’s applause. Both personae are fallacious.
Have I found my natural self, unconstructed, free from artifice?
As of now, the best I can do is to know who I am not, know what I would not do and how I would not behave in certain situations. I would never wear those shoes, part my hair thus, drive that particular model, pronounce this and that in such and such a way.
I learnt these things about me by observing others. You will learn as much about yourself by looking at other people – ah, that is not me – as you will from looking within.
Do this with everyone you meet – respect them, listen to them, acknowledge that they are just like you and yet different, unquantifiably different; that they too struggle with life and that they too are part of this beautiful, bizarre, unfathomable human race. Do this and a picture of who you are will begin to emerge.