There is no familiar shape that you could recognize; neither a sound that could mean anything to you, and if you were to touch something you’d have absolutely no idea how to describe it: cold, warm, rough, smooth? Actually, you couldn’t describe what you see, hear, touch, taste or smell because you know no words to describe them with, none what-so-ever. And since you know no words, there are also no thoughts, no concepts or ideas in your mind because thoughts and concepts require language (ever tried thinking of something without words?). Your mind is a complete absolute blank!
How would it feel? Would you be confused? Curious? Scared? Or would you just break-down and cry out in despair?
If that sounds scary, imagine that this is how every baby must feel right after birth. That’s how we all start out. And yet, incredibly, we persist. We learn, and find meaning in everything around us. But this “awareness” does not just dawn upon us in a flash. It’s the outcome of a long painstaking process of learning.
Initially, we lie patiently observing each single sound, movement, object, color etc. and try to comprehend its nature and purpose, storing it safely in our memory. As the database of information grows, associations start to appear. For instance, the association of a certain sound or sight with food or danger. Thereafter, patterns start to emerge. It is generally agreed that a human child becomes “aware” of itself and it’s surroundings by the age of 18-20 months.
18 to 20 months! That’s how long it takes for a child to begin to comprehend its own existence in relation to its surroundings. Just imagine lying there patiently for 20 months and painstakingly observing, analysing and storing every piece of information minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month by month.
I can’t help but wonder, when exactly was the point in time, in our distant past, when the human race opened its eyes for the first time and looked around in bewilderment?
When did we start to wonder who we are, why we are, and where we are?
Like a baby, this “awareness” of our existence and our surroundings couldn’t have dawned upon us in a day or a week. It must have been the outcome of a long and painstaking process of observing all the natural phenomenon around us and trying to make some sense out of it, until, finally, the question would have occurred to us, who or what am I? Why am I here? And come to think of it, where exactly is “here”?
That day, in our distant past, we became aware of ourselves. That day was the last day of our blissful ignorance; the end of our innocence.