Once again, I am going to step outside the typical weekly blog guidelines with this post. Last week was the second page from a journal that we will be looking at for a while, but I admit it wasn’t the entire entry. I liked the whole entry up to the last paragraph, and made comments last week on what I think now about what I wrote then. Now I would like to share that final paragraph. I didn’t single out this paragraph because I found it particularly brilliant; quite the contrary, actually. My “#WordyMoFo” mind went off as soon as I read it, and I knew I had to save it for a post of its own.
Here it is, the final paragraph:
“Earth is school, nothing more, nothing less. Whether it is kindergarten or college depends on the individual. We cannot skip a grade, but we can progress so quickly as to appear to those holding themselves back that we are. Every situation and every circumstance has a lesson within it for each of us, from the most rudimentary levels to the most advanced.”
What a fat bunch of crap. This statement is evidence of the evolution occurring within me that brought my small personal perspective kicking and screaming to a larger and more philosophical context. One of the cornerstones of my practical philosophy sprouted from the seed of me realizing that not everyone wants or needs the same things. Eliminating sentences that began with “everyone wants…” or “everyone needs…” from my speech and my writing opened me up to a myriad of possibilities I had never considered before. It also made me realize that what I was really saying was “I want…” or “I need…” without considering that any perspective other than my own might exist.
I might have avoided this rant altogether by beginning this paragraph, “For me, Earth is school; nothing more and nothing less.” Even that would have been far too confining, however, to both me and life. I can’t prove in a court of law that my existence does not take place entirely on this beautiful planet we who inhabit it call Earth; you’ll never see me placing bets that it does, however. So let’s peel back those terrestrial layers, or perhaps just allow our consciousness to at least consider the heavens (also known as “space”) to be a part of life just as much as Earth is.
So, instead of beginning with “Earth is…”, I could have begun with “Life is…”; much better. The sentence hardly gets going before it stumbles on “school” and collapses into an ignorant heap with “nothing more, nothing less”. Life is school… sometimes, for some people. It’s definitely more… life is entertaining, it’s comical, it’s solemn, it’s fairy tales presented as facts. The only constant it seems we can ascribe to a sweeping term like “everyone” is “everyone is different”. The only way we can finish a sentence like “Life is…” with any certainty is by personalizing it.
Anyone can open doors of possibility with deliberate or not-so-deliberate intent, while at the same time slamming shut others. Those opened or closed doors belong to the individual, though, not to everyone. The progress of humanity over time can broadly be described as a process of continually constructing belief systems based largely on obvious fiction or negative absolutes, somehow seeding these beliefs into virtually everyone’s consciousness, watching the beliefs and their foundations erode over time, then constructing a new belief system based on fiction or negatives, seeding the beliefs, ad infinitum.
Life is school, in some ways, sometimes, for some people. How’s that? Can I blur the lines and vague it up and still make it sound like an absolute? No, not really. Life is not school for some people. Some folks see life as an opportunity to personify cruelty or apathy, never waking up in the morning once to ask themselves, “How can I make the world brighter today by my living in it?” Life appears to be more like consciousness playing out every possibility than it is any progress in a particular direction. Even if we are moving along some straight line as an evolutionary collective, the bulk of humanity does not seem to be making progress deliberately. Most new “knowledge” doesn’t become common knowledge until all the scientists and philosophers and doctors that refuse to leave the comfortable confines of outdated thought are dead. At worst, the clever individual who discovers something that could re-shape their field of inquiry is imprisoned or driven mad trying to point out the obvious to stubborn intellectuals. At best, the world changes because of their brilliance long after they have joined their narrow-minded colleagues in the grave. We live in a world where community standing and political power are more important to many intellectuals than research cooperation and honest unbiased inquiry.
We can step back and see what life is for most people on the planet, and it doesn’t much resemble school even for many of the creative little fires imprisoned in classrooms. For the individual, though, the best definition I offer is “Life is…” (You fill in the rest.)