In one of my favorite romantic films: Before Sunset, while on a cruise near the church of Notre Dame, Jesse talks about how he has this idea of his Best-Self, and he wanted to pursue that, even if it might have been overriding his Honest-Self. This is said in the context of his marriage, and how he married someone by thinking that commitment, appreciation, respect, and trust were all that mattered. This was his definition of love when he got married, and his Best-Self told him that if these were around, he need not really wait for the perfect person to come along, and his marriage would work out. The marriage went on to become a sham because his Honest-Self just didn’t love his wife, and his Honest-Self is what lived his real life and decided on happiness, bliss, and peace.
I have felt this Best-Self vs. Honest-Self dilemma in many contexts in life; be it love, relationships, career choices, idealogical living, and countless other everyday situations when the principled Best-Self overrides the self-centered and materialistic Honest-Self – to mixed results.
Are there two or more people inside me? the Best-Self? the Honest-Self? the actor? the director? Why is this craving for the Honest-Self to emulate and finally become the Best-Self? Who are role models? How do we define our Best-Selves? Are people who stick to their Best-Selves all the time better off? Do they become role models?
What about hapless victims like Jesse and me, who have Best-Selves, try to stick to them; but whose lives are being directed by their Honest-Selves, and they just are not able to reconcile…
What about unabashed sensualists who do not bother about idealistic visions, and pursue their Honest-Selves without regret, remorse, or guilt. Do true Hedonists exist? Do they have internal conflicts about duties and rights? Or is there a Jesse in everybody, with differing degrees of will-power, conscience, and principles?
I am sure generalization of this sort won’t work, and time and situations bring out a mix of our selves, and we just act on what seems right at that moment. The dilemma only arises when I have the time to decide on which self I allow to dominate me. That’s when I have a choice. This choice is also coupled with the knowledge that the dominating self of that time won’t be dominating all the time. The future will be different, and I will have changed.
I am a prisoner to this dilemma.