I heard someone recently say out loud “I wish I could clone myself” in the context of work. I didn’t think too deeply about it at the time of the comment but it came back to haunt me a bit over the past few weeks. I started thinking through the real implications of this idea and my perception of this being caustic thinking.
- Do I know me enough to know if I could stand me?
- Am I as good as I think I am?
- How do others perceive me?
Some of the questions to start .. but there are many more to answer.
All the Me
A little known fact about mirrors.
Obsidian mirrors from 6,200 BCE were discovered at Catal Huyuk, the ancient city near modern-day Konya, Turkey. People in Iran used polished copper mirrors at least as early as 4,000 BCE. (Reference https://www.thoughtco.com/the-invention-of-the-mirror-195163)
Mirrors were commonly thought to reveal an alternate world, in which everything was backward. Many cultures also believed that mirrors could be portals into supernatural realms. Historically, when a Jewish person died, his or her family would cover all of the mirrors in the household to prevent the deceased person’s soul from being trapped in the mirror. Mirrors were thought to be fascinating but also elicit fear. Mark Pendergrast’s book Mirror Mirror: A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection, (Basic Books, 2004).
Mirrors are an important part of our lives both from a physical perspective and from a psychological one as well. Today, we have much more than mirrors. We have audio and video records of ourselves at our best and our worst. A bad day may live with us for the rest of our lives now as it becomes memorialized by technology. It’s actually pretty scary when I think of it. It is also an opportunity to hear and see ourselves from the outside in. The extended mirror is the recalled images of audio and video that allow us to witness, recall and reflect from more than one point of view.
We have these technical opportunities to create a condition of awareness. Being aware of ourselves isn’t a driver for action. We could deny or protect our own flaws.
What if no matter what we saw we still sought or seek to justify our actions?
A perpetual state of intentional cognitive dissonance?
It boils down to a few basic practical ideas.
- If I can see myself and be aware of who I am, would I do anything to change me?
- If I can see myself and be aware of who I am, would I justify all of the personalities that make up the composition of me?
- Can I realize and understand how others engage me? (A bit different from perception).
While I have spent many years learning about myself, there are things that I have learned to accept and other things that I have not. I need work for sure. There are definitely some things which require an Exacto knife while others which may require a chisel or hammer. Life-changing events that represent a significant situation always help shake out some awareness for me. Cloning the imperfect would exacerbate the situation.
What if we could have a clone? What if you could go down to “clones are us” and walk-in and buy yourself? Would you?
As I have thought through this for a few days or so, I have come to realize that I would not. There would be no condition that I can think of in which I would clone myself. There is only one of me for a reason and I am good with that. Additionally, I consider that under conditions of variability I don’t really know how I would react. It is easy to think that since you know what you have done, you would know what you would do. I don’t think that is the case. I can’t say what my clone would do if he were to replace me. I know what I would think that I may do but I also know that with input from others that my decisions are wide-ranging.
Even if I had a clone that clone wouldn’t be me. It would be him branching off to be himself. He would have his own new thoughts and new experiences. It would be him.
What about you? Would you do it?
How do you feel about the idea of cloning yourself? I didn’t think through or consider religious considerations for this post. I know there is a lot that could be addressed in that context but this is more simplistic. If you are at work and you are doing things and you think “I wish I could clone myself” maybe you should consider that you don’t have a clone and even if you did, that clone wouldn’t be the person that you are.
From my view, we need to figure out how to work better together with people outside ourselves and use the mirror to be self-aware and take time to work on the only you that you are.