"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?"



Because I've lived a fairly long life I have a sense that history is real, and that includes a history of consciousness. There are people who want to time-travel back and condemn people for not knowing things they couldn't possibly have known in their times because they didn't have the requisite consciousness. I don't mean things like racism, torture, political lying, and greed, things that have been with us from the beginning of time and grievously show no sign of going away. I mean things like popular feelings about romance. There was a line often repeated in the 1950s, usually by men to women they'd fallen in love with, that went like this: "Where have you been all my life?" It may have come from a movie, or it may have been generated spontaneously by a culture that wished for an ideal love "till death do us part." (I believe this sentiment appeared after the end of World War II, perhaps spoken by men who were surprised to be alive who had lain in the mud dreaming of the woman they'd marry if they were lucky enough to get home.) Underneath, it is serious. Sometimes when we love beyond infatuation we might still feel this, although it is no longer fashionable to say it. In fact, it might provoke scorn. But I've been thinking of another version of it. People who want to become conscious in their lives (I exclude present day Republicans) are now more numerous than ever. We want a life that is beyond our projections, our self-deceptions, one more open to the world and its possibilities. And when we have insights that this is possible, that we are in fact more conscious than we've ever been, we might say, "Where have I been all my life?" In fact, it could be said simultaneously with "where have you been all my life?" The recognition of a remarkable other person may also be our own recognition of a remarkable hitherto unrecognized self.


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