|Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.|
Why this particular word? For it's broadness of concept and application and the concepts of objective and subjective features of reality and existence it encompasses. It has philosophical roots in trying to define the human entity, as in 'the human being'. Although limiting into such entities and subjectivity, yet so broad a notion, as to be both elusive and controversial within the history of philosophy. No better an example of this as with its beginnings in western philosophy with attempts amongst the pre-Socratics in deploying it intelligently. A thankless task at best.
For my part I shall break it down as I think of it in terms of usage in daily life and how I interpret it. Possibly arrogant, possibly naive and most likely inaccurate, but this is an exercise in sharing a smidgeon of my inner thinking. Nothing more, nothing less.
1. Being: I think, therefore I am.
Really? It is easy to fall into this philisophical trap of believing we understand the fundamental nature of knowledge, our reality and our existence. But do we? I think. I feel. I am the sum total of my experiences. Then surely, I am? It was the French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes (also known as 'The Father of Modern Philosophy'), who created the phrase, "I think, therefore I am".
For me, this is just too neat a bundle into which we can place ourselves. Yes, we share the same biology. Yes we share the same motivations that drive us on a daily basis, and yes we share an eventual destination, being that of death. And everything in between? This I cannot answer for none save myself. My 'being' is still as much a mystery to me today as it was when I first saw my own reflection in a mirror at the age of four and thought, 'Is that me?'
I like to think I know myself. I have certainly got to understand the darker side of my psyche over the past 24 months, which in itself is an earth-shattering experience, as all the things I once held as true for who I was turned out to be based on nothing more than the proverbial 'smoke and mirrors'.
2. Being true to yourself.
This is possibly the hardest thing to master, though we all kid ourselves that we are 'being ourselves'.
To truly be the master of ourself is to encourage scorn and disdain from those around us, for ultimately, being yourself will not mesh with other peoples' preconceptions about who they think you are. My karate instructor once said to me, "We are three people: we are who we are, we are who people think we are, and we are who people want us to be."
How so very true. Think about it. Upon meeting a person for the very first time we instantly make a judgement call on who they are based on our personal likes and dislikes; be they the clothes they wear, the colour or style of their hair, how they speak or even smell.
It is a game we play, being ourselves to a point, never fully showing who we are to others for fear of rejection and not 'fitting in'. We build invisible barriers coloured by the tastes of others in a chameleon-like way so we can glide through life with as little conflict as possible. Not only that, but it is a way of securing our place within a circle of peers. Becoming one of the pack. Becoming part of an adopted identity. We do it here on the blogoverse. No one wants rejection, we all love comments from our peers, we all fear rejection. So do we really blog without influence of others? Are we being true to ourselves?
And if you reject this thinking, take a look at your own sense of identity. Is it truly your own or is it a combination of external influences such as your peers, social media, advertising or magazines?
Maybe those we view as 'weirdos' in life, those who always seem to be standing on the fringe of society, leading a life we deem as odd--the eccentric loner down the road--maybe they are the ones who are really being true to themselves?
3. Being there.
An emotive one without a doubt. Being there for someone else is possibly the best thing a human being can do for another in a time of crisis and/or distress. It is said that this is what separates us from the animals, having empathy for your fellow human being, but I disagree. With access to so much content online now it is almost a daily event to watch an animal somewhere in the world showing empathy, care and concern for one of its own kind, and on rare occasions, for a different species.
So why is it with something so innate inside a warm, living creature, we, as the supposed intelligent species on this planet still find it virtually impossible to be there for those who need us most? By this I refer to members of the community who live alone, whilst family live mere streets away but never visit.
I experienced this first hand when I worked as a Community Visitor in an area of Cardiff known as Fairwater. The only time you saw the family was when the poor relative had passed away and they wanted to see what they could get their hands on.
You could create a whole list on this one. So I suppose what #3 should be saying is: 'Being there for each other'. An easy concept, but so many of us find it difficult to task - I should know, I'm guilty myself. We are, at one time or other, all guilty of it to a greater or lesser degree. I suppose the flip side to this one is to ask yourself, 'Why?'
Life is a circle. A multitude of circles. Everything we do eventually comes back to us one way or another. My aim is to follow the circle that is least tight and not sending me spinning at a break-neck speed until my life becomes nothing but a blur. To take the gentler arc that will allow me to view life for what it is and where it's taking me, and when the need arises, step off and enjoy the moments and people and things it offers. Sure, easy to say, but difficult to do, but worthy of effort.
4. Being aware.
How often are you aware of your daily speech? The things we say, sometimes without thought or consideration? Ever had one of those moments during a conversation when one of your circle raises an eyebrow to something you've said? Were you even aware of what you said?
There is nothing worse than having your mouth run off and seconds later your brain sends you that message of, 'Oh shit! Why did I say that?' Of this I am also guilty. Sometimes stupidly so.
It seems to happen especially with those to whom you are closest to. For some reason social defence mechanisms seem to 'power down' or even switch off altogether in the presence of those nearest and dearest to us. Then you are in a situation of back-tracking, explanation and apology. Grudgingly these are eventually accepted by the injured party, but in your mind that little voice is telling you, 'Too late, the damage is done.' And it is. Time travel would be a wonderful thing, for there are many I would go back and visit in order to gag myself from blurting out bollocks and bullshit without thought and consideration. Funny thing is, in retrospect, as a teen and even through to my late twenties I never had that problem?
5. Being grateful.
Where to begin with this one? Work - I have been in my current job since July 2013, and I hate and loathe it, but conversely I am grateful because it has helped us to secure the home in which we now currently live, and helps to pay the bills. I realise this because of the previous situation I found myself, which in turn I could link back to 'being aware' on another level.
Today it seems as if society is losing its awareness and forgetting to be grateful. I work in one of the country's largest supermarkets and I deal with customers face-to-face on a daily basis when they come to my station to collect their online shopping. It is becoming more of a regular thing for me to hear them say, in regards to a replacement product, "Oh, my little Johnny/Susie won't eat that chocolate because they are the small chocolate buttons and not the large ones."
Inside I'm doing a double-take. These chocolate buttons, made by the same company, are a smaller size so your kid WON'T eat them? This is where the ungrateful side of society makes itself very apparent to me and I loathe it.
I once had a close friend with whom I would have some wonderful discussions and conversations with, of which I miss but am grateful for, and she could hit the nail on the head with regards to social behaviour and dysfunction. There was one phrase which she would use at times that gave me that, 'My God, yes!' moment, and that was referring to such ungrateful people as being/feeling 'entitled', and that is so very much apparent in what I do today. People have much more of an entitled attitude towards things that I, when growing up, would have been overwhelming grateful for, mainly because we had far less back when I was growing up as a kid, especially something as wonderful as chocolate.
But being grateful extends far beyond the parameters of chocolate and grocery shopping. I'm grateful for the life I have, and those within it that make it a special time when we get together. Although I often feel as if time is running out (though don't ask why?) I am very grateful for my journey in life so far and where it has brought me, and the tools it has deemed to bless me with - especially the ability to think and confidently put down in words my thoughts and feelings and imaginings.
It does have its ups and downs, as we all experience from time-to-time, but that's part of life kicking us in the ass when we get too complacent or cocky just to remind us that we are never 100% in control. For that, I REALLY am grateful.
If I had to list the things I'm grateful for, though not complete, but just a sample and in no particular order, they would have to be the following:
Security - though tenuous at times
Family - the given few
Experiences - good and bad
Friends - the definite few
Nature - terra firma, flora and fauna
And this is where my B post ends. A bit of a ramble, I know. Maybe a meandering path of thought, if so I apologise. Hopefully you will have stayed awake and reached this point and not been too bored. I would, however, be interested in your 5 things that you are grateful for. Be interesting to see how we vary.
Thank you for stopping by. See you tomorrow... maybe?