Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being a Being - Some Thoughts (CASCA, Pt. 1)

CASCA was an amazing experience, on multiple levels. I met some great people, saw some really interesting presentations, and had a couple epiphanies to light my way through my next stint of academia. I think I may separate all of that into a couple posts, however, rather than inundating you all with everything in one big heap.

So my first installment of the CASCA archives (I like the sound of that) is this idea of what we are, as people. Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Two separate conversations with different people filled this out for me.

The first was a conversation with one of the students in my lover's graduate programme. I can't remember exactly what the topic of conversation was anymore, or what exactly this fellow said that triggered this thought in my head - there was a lot of alcohol imbibed at this conference (I think this helped with a lot of the 'meeting new people' parts). But what came out of this half-remembered conversation was this idea:

We are not. By which I mean, we are not any particular state of being, but rather the process of being. The way it first formulated in my mind was "We are not anything. We are what we have been, and what we will be." After some more conversation and thought and contemplation over the course of the three days, I reformulated it as "We are becoming." So, the answer to that question, "Who Am I?" seems to be to be "I am everything I have been, and everything I will be, and the ways I engage with my relationships, and interpret myself in the context of my world... That is who I am."

A dynamic, changing, complex, and fleeting being, which itself is a verb - a word of action, not a statement of existence the way a noun is. We are much more than a thing that exists. We are change and growth and experience and a million moving parts constantly reevaluating their place in the universe. It's mind blowing in a way. It astounds me and makes me value all my experiences because it's not that they made me, but they are me.

So, let that roll around in your brain a bit... but, wait! There's more!

The other question... "Why Am I Here?"

The Big Three religions have an answer for you. God's Will. I think that pretty much covers it. But the rest of it have to find meaning on our own; we don't get a vaguely articulated document, poorly translated and even more poorly interpreted, to tell us what we're doing here.

This is something that I've thought about a lot previously, but a conversation at CASCA with another student from the same grad programme as the previous bloke brought it out of me in a more articulated fashion than I'd previously attempted.

I've been slowly working my way through "Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics" by Emma Restall Orr for a while now, and something she says at one point or more, is that people aren't special. There's nothing significant about us that makes us better or more worthy than any other thing on this planet, "living" or not.

So, this is a thought I've been rolling around my noggin for a while, and I think about it a lot, and what that means for our place, and where we stand, and how to integrate this into my udnerstanding of purpose and meaning.

Well, this conversation I had, once again, I can't remember exactly how it started, but I put this idea out here, mentioning Restall Orr's comment, and then I further articulated my own expansion on the idea.

We aren't special, inherently. There is no purpose for us to be here, other than that we are simply all cogs in the universal machine. We play a role the same way the wind does and the ants do and everything else does. We act and interact and react. And so, we have to create meaning, for ourselves. The only way we can do that, really, is through our relationships, with other people, with other beings, with our environment. We have to make our lives meaningful by making our experiences and our relationships meaningful. By respecting their place in the creation of our being, because without them we simply wouldn't be.

It's our relationships and our experiences that make us who we are, as I said previously, and so we have to make them meaningful. That is the purpose of our life. To create meaning in it.

In sum, my mind has been blown. If you couldn't tell, haha.

Wooden Bird

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