The Annihilation of Self

I’ve been wondering recently what it’s like to die, then I realised we do it over and over, only quite subtly and undramatically.

Image of a dead bird on the pavement for article titled “self annihilation” on The Reflectionist

Photo by Chris Slupski on Unsplash

I’ve been wondering recently what it’s like to die, then I realised we do it over and over, only quite subtly and undramatically.

Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.

I had a dream the other night that I was dying. I had stabbed myself in the chest with a blade like a samurai warrior just to feel what it would feel like to die.

I staggered down the stairs from the bedroom of my home, the scene was quite vivid, and I made my way into the short front hall.

I was wearing a white coloured t-shirt. There was no blood.

I collapsed onto the floor and I could feel myself slipping away.

That was it.

Nothing more.

No cold sweats, no leaping out of bed in a panic - nothing.

I was driving home the next day and I happened to remember the dream in a very not-big-deal kind of way.

I said, “wow”, to myself as I drove, “that was crazy”.

It is inevitable.

None of us is getting out of here alive and I wonder sometimes at the drama I create around myself, the things I get uptight about, the fights I start.

But then again, kill my passion for the things that I am passionate for and you kill that which makes half of me.

I am two sides of the same coin. I blow hot and I blow cold in my own particular kind of way and I have a given “time” to execute that.

It’s not possible for me to exist without these apparently dichotomous aspects of the self.

Today I was writing about these things for Sunday Letters.

Larry G. Maguire
Welcome to the Sunday Letters archive where you can read all past issues of the weekly Sunday Letters publication here…

I have been reading Abraham Maslow’s book, Towards A Psychology of Being and decided to get some of this material down on his interpretation of identity.

The predictable way to go would have been to cover the hierarchy of needs, but that’s been done too many times before.

So I chose to cover sixteen aspects of identity in what Maslow calls, Peak-experience.

Although the sixteen aspects overlap, intertwine, are created by, and create one another, there is merit is breaking them down, to talk about the subjective feeling.

And in Maslow’s deconstruction, there is one that stood out which I wanted to discuss.


Whatever I am seems to ebb and flow, to move in and out, to rise and fall through experience. In the experience of life, my perception of time also rises and falls, or rather expands and contracts.

Another way of looking at this is that there is a living and a dying in everything I do.

Life and death are an expansion and a contraction of the self.

Even when contracted into this physical being that I am, there is an everyday moment to moment expansion and contraction, akin to Nassim Harramien’s Blackhole/Whitehole idea of the Universe, of every element right down to the subatomic level.

At every level, if even that is a sufficient analogy to employ, there is expansion and contraction.

It is experienced as the phenomenon of psychological life -happy/sad, stress/non-stress, introversion/extroversion, confidence/uncertainty and so on.

Where am I going with this…?

Ok, death is always happening in every moment. So is life.

We cannot avoid this fundamental of reality.

We are both ends of the spectrum right the way to the extreme and back again to where we started, only it has a tendency to spiral up and down - a spiral within a spiral within a spiral and so on ad infinitum.

Whatever we are goes on forever, but not in a linear time sense. I just said we are spirals within spirals - fractal in nature.

So when we create something, there must be a corresponding dark side to destroy it.

Or maybe the creation is the darkness, therefore, within the concept of a dualistic existence, there must be the light to destroy it, eventually.

The Annihilation of Self

And so we must annihilate ourselves.

Go straight into the thing in the knowledge, and with the acceptance that we will not get out alive.

Anything else is a fool's game.

Go all in, balls and all!

Boiling an egg?

Go all in.

Sweeping the floor?

Go all in.

Building a business?

Go all in.

Burn your bridges because in doing so you get to act freely and without conscience, without fear of annihilation.

Because you know that you go on forever.

“If you awaken from this illusion and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death, or shall I say death implies life, then you can feel yourself — not as a stranger in the world, not as something put here on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke — but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental”

-Alan Watts | Philosopher

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

You’ll also find me here

My Site ¦ Twitter ¦ The Larb Podcast