Monday, April 13, 2015

The Human Journey

The individual human life – the human journey is unique for each of us.  It had its origins in human evolution.  Sometime in the distant past, an extraordinary thing happened in regards to the ultimate destiny of mankind.  Before this singular change, our ancestors were advanced enough to survive and procreate in an exceedingly hostile environment.  The survival programming had been meticulously laid down over an extended period of time into the neuronal architecture encased within the skull. 
These early ancestors were successful at making tools and establishing communities of individuals.  They successfully mated and lived long enough to ensure the survival of the species.  They responded to their environment through direct action and expressed themselves through their emotions; they learned to respond collectively to threat and remained reasonably safe from harm.
Then something quite extraordinary happened.  The architecture of the brain grew in size and complexity; until, self-consciousness was born and from this remarkable change each organism perceived himself as uniquely different and became capable of complex thought – of drawing individual conclusions about the environment.  And, most importantly, the individual became capable of putting together diverse elements gleaned from experience and arriving at original thinking.  From this ability to generate intricate patterns of thinking came the ability to imagine and the impulse to create in entirely new ways.  This new capability instantly changed everything – this newly formed intellect led necessarily marked changes in both individual and collective experience.
This momentous change in combination with the use of a pair of hands with an opposable thumb ultimately gave rise to what we regard as human civilization; for, thinking beings could use their hands to build.  These early humans were no longer restricted to the creation of primitive tools but now could imagine ways to combine disparate elements in the the immediate physical environment to solve real-world problems.

Along with the obvious advantages of self-consciousness for the individual came new and often daunting challenges.  In addition to identification of the individual with the group there was now self-identity that added new kinds of considerations and demands.  There also appeared within this newly acquired intellect an appreciation of the passing of time and the challenges involved in making use of conscious life.  No longer was the individual simply propelled along the path of life by the survival mechanisms and behaviors hard-wired into the neuronal circuitry; now the individual could fashion new kinds of behavior based on conscious choice.  As with all choice, came the ultimate realization of consequences – of the possibility of failure as well as success.

Each of us is propelled from birth into the human journey.  We have many tools at our disposal of both a physical and intellectual nature.  As we grow and develop as individuals, we learn and are shaped by our local environment.  The pace of maturation varies from person to person.  Life’s lessons are many and the conclusions we arrive at are unique to our own persona and the character of our experience.  As a consequence, there is no singular answer to the fundamental questions of living. 
In regards to the often daunting task of navigating the complexities of life, the evolution of human institutions as embodied in politics, culture, law and religion have provided sets of guiding principles.  Although these principles may provide some solace and offer some type of meaning to the individual on his journey, they fail to address the fundamental essence of the experience of existence as a sentient being.
The exigencies of living, the day-to-day preoccupation with the mundane needs that sustain us and the behavioral norms imposed by the larger culture distracts the thinking brain – the mind – from discovering the true nature of self. 
In many ways, the external human world has become a shallow and nearly-mindless multi-ring circus with the many performers all calling for our complete attention and constantly demanding our loyalty to competing values.  As a result, much of existence has been stripped of its real significance.  Modern-day humans have been relegated to a kind of conformity within which our fundamental importance rests on our capacity for material consumption.
Much of this material world is, in many ways, a universe of illusion – a potpourri of virtual experiences designed to stimulate and distract our attention from the substantial aspects of our collective and individual natures.

In response to all of this poverty of riches, I am intent upon stripping away the needless affectation in order to discover the very essence of my humanity – of my humanness.  I believe that the fundamental choices I have made in life reflect important aspects of my persona.  My personal gravitation towards the arts and science are grounded in my genetic inheritance, my creative impulse and curiosity about the world around me.

On the other hand, the errors in judgment that I have made that reside within the realm of friendships and family were driven by the essential need for love, affection and the sense of being connected to those around us that lie at the very heart of being human.  When these basic needs are not met, a sense of emotional deprivation and acute loneliness follow.  Humans do not fare well under such conditions.

No comments: