I developed this analogy while spending a lot of time thinking about how it is that we become "broken" when our love affairs fail, and about what is necessary to the healing process. It is a rather abstract analogy, but I think it can stand on its own and serve to talk about many other issues involving the thing we call "I."
Essentially I picture the personality, or the specific individual mind, as a structure assembled out of many pieces of bamboo, lashed together in many complex ways, standing in a shallow, warm sea.
It is necessary that the structure have a foundation - that it be anchored in its place and that it be capable of remaining strudy and intact as we keep adding to it. Its foundation, the bamboo that extends down into the water and is buried in the sand, is the most important part of ourselves, for it the hardest to change if change is necessary. We require special breathing apparatus, waterproof vines, and careful planning if we are to descend below the surface to (hopefully) improve the basic foundation of our personality.
The parts of the structure above the water are the bits and pieces, the ideas if you will, that form our mind and personality. The mind is the entire complex, and the "personality," that which is seen by others, consists mostly of the outer portions of the bamboo.
Since the whole is interconnected and no piece of bamboo can simply hang in space, every part depends on what else is incorporated and how it is built. Sometimes to fix one poorly conceived stick, an entire wing must be carefully dismantled and rebuilt in order to accomodate the rearrangement.
Imagine your "self" as a cute little monkey swinging from bamboo strut to bamboo strut - you have your favorite resting places, your romping grounds for exercise, your "danger" zones, your new construction, all of which your attention is divided between in various ways.
Portions of this little jungle gym are always built out from existing areas. If they prove to be unsound or ill founded, you may find an entire part of yourself collapsing under its own weight, losing all the carefully assembled ideas because their attachment through the rest of the structure to the ground is flawed. If this starts to happen, however, it is much better to lose a bit and reexmine the trusses of that area rather than try to hold it up with clumsy buttressing from other wings. This not only perpetuates the error of the weak parts ways, it attaches hitherto undamaged areas to it, and worst of all - it is a waste of bamboo!
The case of relationships built up with other people is a special one, since it involves a joint effort to build a bridge between two (or more) peoples minds. I go into this in more depth in my essay relating this analogy to the healing process when one of those relationships is abruptly terminated.
© Huw Powell