Returning to alternate compositions, we can at any time bring into our own life-composition elements from and “alternate” ones.
Some people structure their lives around their children, others around a career, or pleasure, or even pain. These are simply certain focuses that we choose, that direct our experience. We can add other focuses while still retaining our own identity–indeed, enriching it.
Sometimes we act as though one ability contradicts another. We think “I cannot be a good parent and a sexual partner to my mate at the same time.” To those who feel this way a definite contradiction seems implied. A woman might feel that the qualities of a mother almost stand in opposition to those of an exuberant sex mate at the same time.” To those who feel this way a definite contradictions seems implied. A woman might feel that the qualities of a mother almost stand in opposition to those of an exuberant sex mate. A man might imagine that fatherhood meant providing an excellent home and income. He might think that “aggressiveness,” competition, and emotional aloofness were required to perform that role. These would be considered in opposition to the qualities of love, understanding, and emotional support “required” of a husband. In actuality, of course, no such contradiction apply. In the same way, however, we often seem to feel that our identity is dependent upon a certain highly specific role, until other qualities quite out own seem threatening. They almost seem to be un-selflike.
To some degree we feel the same way when we encounter the concept of probable selves, or of counterparts. It is as though we had an unlimited bank of abilities and characteristics from which to draw, and yet were afraid of doing so–fearing that any addiction could make us less instead of more. If all of this goes on personally as we choose one melody and call it oneself, then perhaps we can begin to see the mass creative aspects in terms of civilizations that seem to rise and fall.