selfArchive Blog 02/18
Not someone else’s experience,
but your own.
Today is a day like any other. I think I’ve seen a blue whale but, oh . . . wait . . . I haven’t. I think I’ve passed discarded oxygen cartridges on my final ascent of Mount Everest but, oh . . . wait . . . I haven’t. I could go on in a similar vein. And I know exactly how such impressions occur.
Whatever I’ve read or heard or watched in my lifetime, I’ve filled in the gaps with my reason and imagination. Like most people, I have a facility to weave sensory tapestries that connect narratives and create experiences I’ve never had. Except that I have had them . . . in some way. I’ve been touched by them, emotionally and psychologically. I just didn’t experience them viscerally for myself. But who cares. It’s all experience, right? We can’t be everywhere and do everything.
This is true, of course. But maybe it’s beside the point and there’s a bigger thought here. What about direct personal experience with things like creativity, intimacy, pain and reverence? Empathy is a valuable human capacity but the idea of it is not the same as empathy drawn from personal experience. And then there’s courage, and the development of character.
The opportunity to experience life—however quotidian—is the gift of being alive. This primary emotional imprinting transcends any hollow simulacra. And it roots our experience in context. Otherwise, what exactly are we doing?
Are we doing anything hard, unpleasant or meaningful, or just bombarding our senses with thrills and avoiding emotional engagement?
Are we deepening what it means to be fully human, or are we losing a core connection with ourselves . . . our self?
selfArchive 719 | Awareness | Awakening | Illustration | Words