The Scavenger Hunt: Anybody Find the Self?

The Scavenger Hunt: Anybody Find the Self?

So far, the team was doing well on its perpetual scavenger hunt. They had gathered with the other seekers early that morning to receive the latest lists.

One by one, the group had checked off the selected items, as they believed they had found them.

Finally, there was just one item remaining on the list for the team to locate. It was the self.

So, they started looking high and low.

After a while, a man shouted, “I found it!”

He ran up to one of his teammates, brandishing an impressive-looking brokerage statement.

“My money makes me who I am” he said.

Then a woman waving a report card said, “Listen, I found the self, it’s my daughter’s report card with straight A’s!”

“Getting the best grades makes her who she is” she exclaimed.

Yet another member of the team soon arrived and said, “No, no, you are both wrong. Look at the self I found!”

She showed them her expensive purse with the famous, exclusive monogram displayed where it could not be missed.

“People know who I am as soon as they see my wonderful bag,” she said. “This bag is really me!”

“Ya’ll just don’t get it,” yet another person said, flexing his enormous bicep so that it seemed to be popping out of his shirt sleeves.

“My body, myself. And that’s final!”

But a much younger member of the team, who had been just listening quietly in the background until now, laughed and said, “OK, Boomer, I’ll show you what the self really is.”

She removed her smart phone from her back pocket, raised it in both of her hands at the proper angle above her head and snapped a selfie. “See, this is the self!”

“Hip hip hooray,” the team shouted in unison. “Onto the next scavenger hunt!”

However, there was a teammate who stayed right where he was.

At some point during the latest hunt he had stopped trying to locate the self. He suddenly recognized that the self was not a brokerage statement, report card, designer handbag, or a giant muscle.

And, it certainly was not a selfie.

He understood that the self could not possibly exist in any form that could be written on a list. In fact, it was not a “something” at all.

It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with what his teammates had found, but in the end, none of them were actually the self.

In the distance he heard his former teammates, already mesmerized by the newest item to find. It was self-esteem.

He thought they’d probably convince themselves they had found self-esteem when all they actually had found was a pill, a bottle, perhaps an edible, or an affirmation telling them how great they are.

“People,” he thought. “Will we never learn?”

Then he left the hunt for good, whistling a happy tune all the way back home.

“Think About It” Questions:

  1. What does “the perpetual scavenger hunt” signify in this story?
  2. Do you think that the self can be equated with an object or an achievement?
  3. Why was the man who left the team whistling a happy tune at the end?
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