I Talk To Myself Because I Have A Soul
I talk to myself. And I answer myself. I’m not crazy. I’m hard of hearing, mostly deaf in one ear, partially deaf in another. I have perfect audio fidelity when I talk to myself. I hear the voice in my head every day. I hear one clear voice every day, expressing my desires and preferences, my goals, what I’d like to fix, what isn’t working, how I’m feeling, and what I’d rather be doing the next moment that comes along.
I don’t really know if I have a soul. I have a friend who messes with my head. “Is your body you, or is there something else in there? What exactly are you?” And I really don’t know that answer. I know that I’m living and breathing. That I have a body. I know if I’m hungry or not. I know if I’m thirsty or not. I have a piece of paper that claims to describe the place, day, and time of my birth. I have a driver's license. But none of that tells me if I have a soul.
Wikipedia has this to say about the soul:
In many religious, philosophical, and mythological traditions, the soul is the incorporeal essence of a living being. Soul or psyche (Ancient Greek: ψυχή psykhḗ, of ψύχειν psýkhein, “to breathe”, cf.Latin ‘anima’) comprises the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, qualia, memory, perception, thinking, etc. Depending on the philosophical system, a soul can either be mortal or immortal.
I am engaged in an ongoing experience of existence that is consciousness. I’m aware of my surroundings and some of the workings of my body. I am aware of my needs and wants. But none of that tells me that I have a soul. My only real clue is that I talk to myself.
Like an episode of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, there is a narrator in my head. That voice describes what’s going on around me. That voice makes suggestions. That voice announces value judgments about my surroundings. That voice acknowledges my surroundings. It lets me know if I”m in Frostbite Falls. Or not. That voice is a part of me that can be grateful for the things around me. My soul, if I have one, has gratitude.
Most of what I know about me doesn’t tell me if I have a soul or not. The only clue, it seems, is that I talk to myself. I feel uncomfortable and the soul in me seems to agree with my assessment. I feel happy and my soul agrees with me. This is an assumption though. I can’t really step outside of me and say, “Huh. That’s my soul there to the left and, over there is the universe.” I have only this one little peephole into reality and that’s it.
When I marvel at something, I have no way of knowing if that’s me marveling at something, or if my soul is getting a kick out of it. I don’t know exactly who I’m talking to when I talk to myself, either. And then I answer myself. When I write, I’m talking to myself and I’m answering at the same time. This is confusing.
I know that I have a train of thought. It runs throughout the day. I have chores to do. I have work to do. I have kids to take care of. I have a wife that must love me because she is still here. I love her too, it’s just that sometimes, it’s hard to love her when she’s angry. I talk to myself when she’s angry. I talk to myself when she’s cool, and she does something really neat around the house. She likes to decorate the house. She likes to move the furniture around when I’m not looking.
I’ve taken to the trampoline lately. While I’m bouncing on the trampoline, I notice the rhythm of my bouncing and my breathing. I hear a voice in my head, but not so much as I hear the breathing. I wonder who it is that is observing all of it. The breathing, the swinging arms, the flexing of my ankles, all of that is coordinated with a fair amount of precision. I focus on breathing out, not breathing in. I allow myself the joy of the sweat, the exertion, the sensation that I’m building endurance. I am noticing that with each day that I bounce on that thing, that I can go longer than before with greater ease. 30 minutes was hard a few days ago. Now I feel I could go longer. Is that just my brain or is that my soul talking?
I’m still not sure if I have a soul. But I have a fair amount of evidence that I was here, that I’m still here, and that at least for the time being, I’ll be around for a while. I have kids to raise. I have a commitment to my wife and family. On a walk long ago, my wife told me, “I just want 50 years.”
“I just want 50 years of your time.”
“So when I’m 95, I’m free…I can do that.”
If I have a soul, I don’t think my soul has any concept of time. So that must have been me. Talking with my wife, agreeing to the terms of our commitment. If I have a soul, then I’m committed. Wait. Maybe I’m committed because I have a soul.