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I find it difficult to be a person that wants only to see beautiful things. The trouble is that not everything is beautiful or ugly - it’s not that black and white. There is so much gray, and it is the gray that troubles me.
I think as humans, we try very hard to identify our surroundings. Since the beginning of humanity, I suppose there were men and women, children, who used language to make sense of their world.
Humans are incredible that way. We made languages. Such intricate languages.
The most marvelous part of it all, is that it came from our minds.
Within our minds, we tried to make sense of our outside world with what tools we had in our minds to decipher that outside world. What is “water” and what is “light” and what is “blue” and what is “a song”? And do we have voices, or do birds also sing? Is the howling of a lion, the yawning of a cat, the whisper of the moving trees in the wind - is this language to us too?
Certainly, there had to have been a time when humankind had to struggle with these questions.
What are you?
Where do you belong in this world of “mine?”
And you see, I think that is where the brain - the brain it struggles.
Intrinsically, humans believe - one human here, another human there, but all of us together as “humans” believe that this world is “ours.” Strangely we do not see, and cannot comprehend that this world, this universe was here before us. We cannot comprehend time before “us.” I mean that, as in, sometimes it is hard for the human mind to imagine life before it existed.
In just my own case - I have spent many months wondering what my parents’ lives were like before I came along.
I hear mothers, new mothers, say all of the time that they never knew love before they had their child. I suppose this is true, but also, I think maybe not.
I think that love changes. I think it presents itself in different iterations throughout our life. I think that, in life, we must discover new ways to love, always.
The problem here, is that when love seems unfamiliar to us - when it seems different - we must choose.
The human brain is one that chooses. Yes, we have instincts, but we can choose too.
I think about mothers in the wild - mother bears, mother birds, mother lions, mother penguins, mother turtles, mother dolphins, mother fish. They all act so differently.
As humans, we look at these different iterations of love and innately think that because we do not “act” this way, rather, that these “animals” do not act like “us” that they do not feel love.
I think, our definition of love is too small.
We are prisoner to our own perceptions.
So, for me, the strange thing is trying to have a new perception.
The best I can describe my feelings these last few weeks, past few months I suppose, is that I seemed to be moving through the world contained in a small glass box.
I could see my world. At times, it seemed familiar. At other times, it seemed quite foreign, strange to me.
I think it is my instinct, as a human, to try to make sense of all of it.
I found in myself a narcissistic desire to make “my world” fit my preconceived notions of what I thought it “should” be.
I think humans have been doing this since the dawn of time. The dawn of consciousness. The first moment we realized, we are ourselves - we are ourselves, and this. We are ourselves and Here.
Suddenly for me, I feel as if the glass box has opened up. I still see, I am still alive, I still think, and yet the thoughts are so different. They travel through my mind in new pathways. My brain suddenly feels like flashing rapid fire.
It is good, or else, it can be. What I mean, is that, I feel more in tune with myself, with my surroundings.
Language is interesting to me. Language is interesting because, as much as humans have tried to name other things, and place little things in the preconceived categories of the mind, feelings do not always fit into preconceived categories - they vary, they have spectrums.
Well, you see, I started to think of colors.
Who can say something is “green” or something is “blue”? Who is to say we see the same things?
And then it follows naturally, that perhaps we do not see the same things at all. Perhaps - and I don’t think this is too far a stretch - our perceptions are not static. Meaning, our perceptions can be changed. Our mind can change.
So, then, I believe that hate can become love. We can learn to love.
The difficult part is, knowing what to love.
I think that humans have a feeling that I will refer to as passion.
It is semi-obsessive, perhaps, extremely obsessive.
It is what makes humans go to school to be doctors so that they can go across an ocean to a war-torn village to take care of other humans.
But it is also, when misguided, the same thing that leads to racism, sexism, and hate.
Who will argue with me that, for example, in politics, there is passion on both sides?
Who can argue that?
Whether that passion manifests itself as Love, Peace, Hate, Pragmatism, Optimism, Hopefulness, Hopelessness - is it not all passion just the same?
The trouble I find - and I know I am even privileged to have this “trouble” - is that Love is such a wonderful feeling to feel. And hate, anger - so awful the two.
I wonder sometimes why a human would choose to drown themselves in sorrow. And yet, I have drowned my “self” in sorrow too.
So, I thought about mental illness. I “am” thinking about mental illness. Metacognition, so to speak.
I wonder about choice, and choosing feelings, and feeling like you can’t choose your feelings, and then learning how to choose them - except, it’s not quite that simple.
I had a thought about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
For those unfamiliar, to the best of my knowledge and the best way I can describe it, is that you teach the brain (or I suppose, the person with the brain) to “think” of “stress” differently.
Except, the trouble I find with this method is that you can only teach a human so much.
Meaning, are we not made with certain instincts?
To persist, is one instinct.
To proliferate is another.
Why else have children?
Why else have sex?
Why else seek companionship?
Why else want to be safe?
It is so we can be alive.
We have an instinct to “be” alive.
Sometimes not, and for this, I think, - it is my hypothesis, anyway - that this is an aberration of instinct.
Some people will disagree with me. I think they will answer the above questions by saying “Well, you do it because you want to.” Sure, but why do you want to?
Why do you love your children?
Why do you love your spouse?
Why does your heart break when that love fades?
Why do we cry when we are disappointed?
For me, the answer remains - because we are alive.
So, I think, if we are to be alive, should we not love? Should we not spend this life in peace?
I suppose here is the philosophical argument.
That we are “good” because a “creator” made us this way.
But what if not?
And what of the humans that are not?
What of those who struggle?
What of those who thrive off struggle?
What of those who succeed beyond the odds?
And what of those, who dwell so deeply in anger, that have lost sense of who they are in a world where we all are?
Alive, I mean.
We are all alive.
We are not machines.
We desire Peace.
We feel pleasure.
We feel pain.
And so, humans, as animals (homo sapiens sapiens), are these our instincts?
I have wondered this. I have thought, well, yes, because why else would we feel it?
Why else would the mind - made up of bits of squishy gray mush housed in a skull of bones, formed in the womb of our mothers - humans also - born into this world, breathing air - why would this thing in our heads, this new piece of existence, that exists because literally the building blocks - our DNA, nature - has made it to exist …
Why else would it feel?
Why do some of us paint beautiful pictures?
Why do some of us hear beautiful music?
Why do some of us create beautiful music?
Why do some of us sing?
Why do some of us write?
Why do some of us run?
Why do some of us excel athletically?
Why have we been creating Art since the dawn of humanity?
What is Humanity, if not this?
I believe it is all to do with the mind.
Beethoven - he was a human also, lest we forget.
Leonardo da Vinci, human.
Van Gogh, human.
Frida Kahlo, human.
Rosa Parks, human.
Martin Luther King, Jr., human.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, human.
Bill Nye, human.
Hillary Clinton, human.
Bernie Sanders, human.
The Beatles, humans.
Jimi Hendrix, human.
Michael Jordan, human.
Steph Curry, human.
What a strange world this is:
That it should create life - by nature, sustain life, proliferate life, persist.
That the Earth should persist in spite of all of our destruction.
As humans we have the capacity for love - and yet, we have lost the ability to love first, to be curious children in awe of our world, to understand each other, to learn, and to let love remain.
I write this, today, as a human who struggles.
I am also a human that writes, and sings, and plays music, and wants to color, and paint. I am a human that sees colors, and strangely I see sound now too - but that is another story.
I am a human with mental illness.
I am a human that struggles with the great daunting task of Being Alive in this world.
On this Earth.
Human (I think).
It is hard to believe we are not in this together.
That the fight to persist, the fight to live, the fight to proliferate, the fight to preserve Humanity - the fight to persevere in spite of hate and violence - the fight to Be Human …
It is hard to believe we are not all brothers and sisters, fighting to be alive, together.
It is hard to believe we are not all part of the same family.
We are the same family.
We are brothers and sisters.
Descended from the same bones in a cave in Africa.
Descended from the same nature which we see every day.
Having looked up at the sky and wondered how big our world is for centuries.
We have wondered, we have Loved, we have Discovered for our entire existence.
Please, please, do not stop now.
Please, look at our precious Earth.
Look at your brothers and sisters.
Look across the table, across the street, across the ocean, across continents and deserts, and wars and mountains - and see.
See your brothers and sisters who struggle.
See the children, their children, our children.
Know that their struggle is your struggle, and your struggle theirs.
Know that because We Are Human, we feel, we think, we love, we dream, we wonder, we create.
So too, do they, across the ocean.
They dream. They love.
We must love them too.
Peace, and Love.
Why then, why else should we have the capacity to do so?
If not to love, then why?