How Do We Become Who We Are

books-livrmI remember being pregnant with my first son. I remember stacks of books about being pregnant and producing children. I remember laughing and throwing one of those books, the title of which escapes me, into the trash can because it said something about newborn children being “blank slates” upon which their parents basically “wrote” their being.  Wow.  I somehow knew, just from the nature of the kicks to my breastbone, that the little presumed “chalkboard” in my belly was not going to go along with THAT program!

books-officeThis was before I’d even taken a philosophy course and before I’d even heard the word “existentialism.”  But I had the certain knowledge of what my own parents tried to “write” me into and knew I had rejected that completely.  How and why did I reject their doubtless sincere, if self-serving, efforts?  Because of BOOKS.  Because I read from an early age – I read at 4th grade level in grade one.  Because in a household full of horrific physical punishments, the worst punishment of all was not being allowed to check out library books for a whole year.

booksaltarBooks were where I escaped the cruel cloister of “family” life.  Books made me forget cold and hunger.  Books told me there were other ways to live, places to be.  Books made me sure I could do more with my life.  I’ve asked for books as presents more than any other object, I’ve given books away all my life.  The ones pictured in this post are small remnant of books owned and re-homed elsewhere, or occasionally sold, in my lifetime.  Books, to me, are WEALTH.  And no, those photos are not even all of the books of the family.  Not even half the books.

Reading is freedom seeking.  Reading is hope in ink.  So believe me when I say, I approve this message.  A plan to GET books into the hands of children who live in the unimaginable horror of a “book desert”?!  I am absolutely FOR that idea.  Even at our poorest, in my childhood, there was a set of encyclopedia and a dozen other books in our home, until we lost it all when I was around age 13.  Living in the wilds of frozen rural Idaho with no book in the house except the Book of Mormon, left by missionaries, was the most extreme deprivation I’d known.

Books are the building blocks of the mind.  And the roadmaps to better futures.  Books can be weapons against chaos.  Give your children books.  Give your adult friends books.  Read books yourself.  Challenge yourself!

 

 

 

 

Gratitude and Un on August 13

Edo crow screenWordPress? I am NOT grateful for all your alleged “betterment” of my posting experience, so that is said. (It only took me FOUR tries to get the thing posted today w/o the link leaving no road back to the post, etc. Or crazy coding that made no sense and went nowhere!)

That OUT of the way? The temp outdoors is beginning to swelter, since I am cooking for a dinner party tomorrow — it’s going to be iffy-hot inside as well. So as usual, my mind takes refuge in a different kind of heat — philosophy.

I’d been thinking of a favorite of mine — Friedrich Nietzsche, of late. Reminded, no doubt, by too many people not participating in life and living in virtual realities! America and her constant consumerism and electronic diversions make Americans prime examples of Friedrich’s “last man” (un)ideal. What, you say, am I talking about?

Well, that is what I am grateful for, you see? The synchronicity of the internet bringing me a Nietzschean synopsis that makes succinct sense!

As a humanist existentialist sort? I like the clarity of Nietzsche, and the honesty about the despair and grinding labor of making meaning for oneself. No, boys and girls, it isn’t about being “the Highlander” and there can be only one ubermensch! It IS about how freedom to make a choice is the first step on the road to being the super man/woman who creates their own meaning based on something besides cultural fads or cop-gods meting out punishment.

No last (wo)man left behind here!

And the Prose – Eleven

LiveWe humans, we think we are the pinnacle.  We’ve encoded it into our very religions, have we not?  Mankind given “dominion” for pity’s sake….oh, and how has that worked out, exactly?

As a graphic I saw recently put it, if you encapsulate (for brevity) the 4.6 billion years of Earth’s story into 46 years?  We humans have been here 4 hours and the industrial revolution has lasted one minute and in that minute, we’ve destroyed 50% of the world’s forests — oh, and goodness knows what else!

Some pinnacle, eh?  I think we have it out of perspective.  I think because if we are set apart from all other animal life in any fashion, it is because we know we are going to die.  And this seems to really mess us up: we deny it, we decry it, we do everything to think one more ‘blip’ on eternity’s radar should be ours.

I’m an existentialist sort, personally.  I believe in living and doing my best and when I am done — I’m kind of grateful, to be honest, to conceive that there IS a “done.”  I am weary, to be honest.  My life has been quite charmed, I feel; and yet just witnessing the world going on around me makes me frustrated, sorrowful, angry (oh SO angry), and very glad that it cannot last forever.  My husband wonders if we would be wiser if we lasted longer. I think that is a nice thought, but a futile one.

Evil apparently grows old in the people it rules, but it does not grow into anything less evil most of the time.  No, I don’t believe it is an outside force – like Satan.  I believe it is, when not a product of mental illness, an inner collapse of courage into selfishness and despair that then espouses a “take no prisoners” attitude towards all that is encountered.  I would consider my life a success if the only thing I accomplished was NOT falling to that particular wayside.

I don’t know what exists, if anything, after this life.  I often postulate the idea one finds in pantheism — that we all dissolve back into a united imminent whole.  I find that a quiet peaceful image, but of course, I could be mistaken.  Perhaps we reincarnate?  Perhaps we choose some other mode of being as so many myth systems envision?  Death is not only a final rest in my mind, but perhaps the final adventure of discovery.

So yes, I will in my aging, wear rose scents and romantic garments.  I will feel the wind in my hair and aspire to being a beautiful, and healthily brief memory!