The number of characters that present themselves in our minds as we live is innumerable. Not only the “others” we come to know, but fictional characters, of novels, plays, or films, and the many unknown others, referred to in news or history, in tales and legends, imagined awake, or dreamed when we are sleeping; they can be heroes, villains, lovers, ignorant, creative, comical, ridiculous, globally recognized, or totally unknown. Just characters in our film of life.
They are all intermingled in the so-called "reality" of the mind. There is Don Quixote, thin and tall, with a sparse beard and a thin face. So many people know how to describe this imaginary character of a novel but almost none know how to describe Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the writer who imagined him. The famous characters of literature take on texture in our imagination; their creators become secondary characters of the parade. People and characters. These entities of momentary personality, which differ from one another, appear, come to life, are born and die in multiple scenarios, in real life stages, as well as in theater and cinema, the sphere of the imaginative mind, and in the dreams of each one of us.
I am one of them. A person.
Etymological references say that person is derived from the Latin word persona, probably an elaboration of the Etruscan word phersu and perhaps from the Greek term prósôpon. The latter word means "mask" and is composed of pros, "forward", and opós, "face": that which is placed in front of the face.
Persons are the infinitely diverse masks that cover the self, the people and characters who interact on a world stage, in a universe of tremendous beauty and infinite multiplicity and dimension, perceived by our senses, thought and imagined by our minds, and felt by each heart; in an immense, endless, and complex story of stories, most of which remain unexpressed, behind the masks that each person presents when they pass by. Imagine then what we are: billions of scattered imaginations!
Ephemeral drops of ocean that appear and disappear in an endless flow, in a stream with as many definitions as there are minds, some averaging their perceptions, others radically different, and still others so strange and few that we call crazy, like our friend Don Quixote.
Many, or perhaps all, or some, ask themselves at some point the question of what is all this, what is the purpose, if any, of this masquerade? And perhaps all, or many, or some, venture to answer with their minds, or feel hunches within their hearts, about the meaning of life and existence. And we end up with two great models, one in which there is a superior being, that is, a person who has no mask, who is all Being, who we call in English, God, who imagines the masks and the stage, basically so not to be alone, or just because. And the other model because it is what it is.
There are variants of this model, from a remote and indifferent God, to one who intervenes in the affairs of his play and even makes himself present, sometimes disguised as a person. So, people, or persons, sometimes believe that this one or that one is the messenger, the person among persons or characters, and they create a world of rules, requirements, observances, dogmas, and ceremonies that are the only right way to see the meaning of life. Many do it to such an extent that they think that those who do not see it their way have forcefully to be saved from themselves. These models fight each other and are part of history and the masquerade ball of life.
The other model is less emotional and more cerebral; it is where everything emerges from nothing, like a tree emerges from a seed, explodes from a point, and, through a process of randomness and coincidence, evolves forms, which eventually become these bubbles of self-awareness, these characters, and people that we are. It's all a two-way cycle, so when these bubbles disappear, these people dissolve again into those subparticles of exploded nothingness and reshape themselves in other ways, whether human or not. This is so because it is so. And, well, there is nothing else to do except live the best you can in harmony with everything and with yourself. In this model there are also variants that range from "every man for himself", since everything is a chance of matter, to an ontological responsibility, because everything is part of the same cosmos that has evolved and been evolving.
Thinking as a person, I feel that there is more in common between these opposing models than meets the eye, and I feel that the instruments of thought and the senses are not enough to encompass the true meaning of life. I believe that the meaning of life has to be felt, it is an awareness of an awareness, an inner revelation, a certain I don't know what that one tries to explain, but that lies beyond explanation.
I think that thoughts, when conceptualized in the rivers of language, fail to see existence in its holistic totality; that there is an ingredient in everything perceived, thought, or felt, an ingredient of uniqueness, which in English we call "love," which permeates all spheres and which, in the sphere of self-consciousness, manifests itself as a profound realization of the continuum of existence that we are. It is a realization that grows gradually, not as a concept, not as reasoning, but as a deep feeling, an awareness that transcends sensory perceptions, the imaginations of mind, and the individualization of consciousness of our egos.
I don't have the language to explain what I don't understand, but that sometimes I feel. But I venture to add to this story that we act as characters, that I feel that "life is the story of existence", that it is a game of hide and seek, "to manifest and express love" and that, through this game, existence becomes a person. That is to say, that the mask that hides existence is the universe, with all its innumerable contents, and that all the characters with our respective masks are nothing but the echo, the reflection of the person of existence.
Like raindrops in a glass window, we slide on our trajectories, interacting and eventually melting into currents and, finally, into the rivers that take us to the ocean, and we cease to be droplets. Because droplets are only droplets when they are separated from the sea. In the sea, every drop is the sea. Each character is the person.