Where Do Humans Really Live?
The literal and obvious answer might be “on this planet,” or “within society.” In fact, except for rare moments within our immediate experience, we dwell within a world of, as Wittgenstein would say, “private language.” Words and syntax are our primary tools of mediation with the external world, language in the form of concepts, beliefs and ideas that filter and interpret all of our five-sense input. We perceive the outside world to be arriving directly and pure, but it is immediately warped and unconsciously reconfigured by us into a pre-digested form. It might “appear” that we’re seeing direct reality, but it’s actually just us peering back through our own looking glass. Even when we become aware that we live mostly in our own reflection, within our own personal intellect-generated world, that awareness still won’t much change things. Sorry.
Remainder of You?
Consider the various universes we inhabit. Our primary universe is our own personal world. This is where we spend most of our time, swimming within our own thoughts, perceptions and the stew of our emotional juices. Next, there is our physical location contained within the “myth” of space-time, which we occupy-temporarily. It’s only a tiny sliver of the planetary time continuum where our body seemingly displaces an infinitesimal amount of volume from within an earthly location. Then we seem to inhabit our cultural universe composed of social groups like family and nation and our inheritance of history, tradition and language. So the big question is… what would remain of “You” if these dimensions of your life suddenly altered or even vanished. Would there still be a “You”, even if it was a very different you?
The “Human Potential Movement”
Potential for what, may I ask? To become more or better than human is? At least try to be the “best we can be,” which is still better than we are. Never satisfied, we’re always trying to tweak a little extra horsepower out of our engines, but to what end? Someone might be able to run the mile a few tenths of a second faster, jump a few millimeters higher or become an enlightened guru, but what has that really accomplished? Is it still a question of how much ‘better’ we humans can become than we are already, or are we just striving because it’s the popular social ethic? What else would a lot of people do with their time if they weren’t attempting to climb a bit higher? Remember poor Icarus as he flew just a little too close to the heavenly heat! We probably can’t help it because it’s our inbred nature; or maybe it’s just an aspect of the “Human Potential Movement’.
Ground Hog Time
Life in “Ground Hog” time: Living essentially the same day over and over. At age 50, one has lived 18,250 days (or pages in your date book). But how many are just Xeroxes? Is there a pile of copies 50 feet high? Have you been lucky enough to truly live even a few of your 50 years? What percent of your life has been just biding time, fast forwarding, skimming, blurring or discarding – how much of your life has been really lived, and not just re-run? Your life span has nothing to do with chronological accumulation. People live lives in repetition – living the same day, again and again, often for years, until eventually they’re bumped into a slightly different configuration where the repetition begins again. Add up all the lost repetitive days in your life and subtract them from your chronolog. The remainder is the time you’ve actually lived – the essence of your life, distilled. Hopefully, you’re satisfied with the result.
Bless the Children
Religion: refuge of the simple, fearful and dependent. Those who refuse to partake of the “fruit of the tree of knowledge”, not willing to leave the safety of Eden, or to even make a serious independent attempt to be free and to live their own life! They won’t leave their childhood refuge to wander the desert in search of new life (beyond the conventional safety of their parentally provided world). For the few who might even try, when night falls, they will rush back to the sanctuary of the garden. Bless the children.
There are many ponds in the swamplands. If you are lucky enough to climb out of your pond of origin, peruse the landscape, and arrive at a moment of detached perspective, then you’re poised for re-entry. All it takes is to become attracted and then enamored with one of the myriad of other available and beckoning ponds. One moment you are floating, detached above the worlds, seeing all with a perceptive clarity. With a silent whoosh, you have suddenly been vacuumed back into another disparate and transitory reality. Life has become a fever dream.
“Menehunes” are mythical Hawaiian fairies that inhabit the shadowy realms, and can only occasionally be glimpsed with peripheral vision at unexpected moments. Should you turn to look directly at them, they will instantly disappear. Chasing happiness is like trying to hunt menehunes: you may catch a glimpse of happiness but when you do, it will quickly disappear. Like happiness, you can walk to where you thought you saw menehunes – even camp out hoping that they will return – but they are long gone. It doesn’t matter if happiness can not be chased, people will still try to capture something that instantly evaporates at the slightest thought of control or containment. Happiness is free and wild!
A Radical Idea
Living the Polynesian life? Do you think you could live your life exactly the way you felt like living it, (within existential constraints, of course)? What a completely radical idea: living “your” life, and not just a life of societal expectation! Maybe as an itinerant, vagabond, wastrel, beach walker – producing nothing, sleeping whenever you want, kicking the sand, admiring the stars – kind of life. Could you do it?
Ego centric and geo centric: dark clouds covering my life, that hang suspended blocking the light and sky – depression. The dark night arrives again as the sun flees to leave me for another 12 hours, cold and without light. However, clouds only exist in the lower atmosphere, thus the sun always shines even though we may not be able to see it from our diminished perspective. A true numinous reality is forever shining, but it can only be seen when the clouds covering our phenomenal reality are momentarily penetrated or removed.