Proprioception is a great word. It literally translates as ‘sense of self’, but it’s not some kind of abstract ‘self’ as an individual. It is a fundamental physical sense, just like one of the five we’re taught about as children. It’s the sense that tells you where the parts of your body are even when you can’t see them, so that, for example, you can reach behind you for something out of sight.
I saw an amazing documentary when I was younger that had a huge impact on me. It’s called ‘The man who lost his body’, and it’s about someone who lost his sense of proprioception, and learned to work around it through pure determination.
The ability to overcome obstacles through sheer strength of will has been a fascination of mine for a long time. Thinking back, I wonder if watching this documentary was where that fascination started. It’s something I envy – I don’t posess that kind of determination myself, although I’ve been known to make a working replica using a mixture of motivational techniques and bloodymindedness.
Which brings me back to a different ‘sense of self’ – the sort of self that goes with self-image, self-esteem, and self-determination. Does a high level of motivation require a strong personal identity? It seems plausible; after all if you’re not even sure who you really are, how can you be certain what you really want? How can you be so certain that you are willing to sacrifice less important wants and needs in the pursuit of a single goal?
(With thanks to A Writer’s Path, who reminded me about proprioception.)