Saturday, December 17, 2011


What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be human in the total sense; beyond the physical body and into the mind where ideas, beliefs, and ambitions are cultivated? Does it mean we are selfish, brutish, and evil? Does it mean we are beautiful, kind, and optimistic? Of course not. Being human lies both somewhere in between this and yet so much more than this. That would be my guess.

Consider me for a moment. I am a nobody. My words have influence among only a small number of people. Most just disregard what I say. Among my own family, I am looked at as being someone to tolerate when I speak. I am a fag, a Democrat, and an atheist. All things that negate my words among my family and among others. I speak in such a way that most people smile and nod and say they are nice words but those words hardly provoke the person into introspection.

Who are you? Are you someone of influence among friends and family? Or are you like me: a nobody? Who is the person sitting next to you in a restaurant, classroom, or while passing as you walk? What does it truly mean to be human? Are we more human than the child suffering from disease and famine in Asian or Africa? Are they more human than us? The acquiring of goods makes us a people that acquire goods. But does the actual acquisition of goods bring us into being human? Does religion provide us a pathway to becoming human at last? Does God?

These thoughts have bothered me over the years. They are the questions that have consumed my thoughts at times. I cannot help but wonder at the heart of the matter. I know that I seek to be better as a person. I seek to be more than I am. But what does that end goal look like? And is there even an end goal?

Words fail me sometimes. I see my deficiencies with near crystal clarity as one would notice the intricate details are on an artwork. I am bitter, sarcastic, petty, jealous, defensive, and weak. When I go to the clubs, I find my eyes wandering and envying the more attractive men around me. In class, I envy the smarter students. At work, I envy the more diligent workers. In everything, I am less than someone else.

But as life has gone on, I have come to accept something about this question of being human. Life isn't about perfecting weakness. It's about accepting and transcending them. I shouldn't glory in my weakness and become a victim and I shouldn't try to perfect my imperfections for the sake of being perfect. In the ancient world, the Greek concept of perfection was about balance and about harmony. That's what I wish to seek. I will never be some ripped and muscular man that has muscles upon muscles (mostly cause I don't want that, ha ha!). I will never be some twink (for the same reason as the previous one). I will never be a genius and I will never be an idiot. But accepting mediocrity defeats the point.

I would guess that being human lies not in listing off traits of excellence or imperfections. It lies not in settling for accepting you as you are. I would think being human lies behind the self. Beyond the individual. Only then can the individual be embraced and transcended. I would think that being human lies beyond the lists of dos and don'ts; beyond the seven habits of highly effective whomever, and beyond all the self-help books in the world.

That's my guess.

1 comment:

  1. At some point over the last few years I have more or less quit focusing on weakness and strength... I have quit focusing on the idea of specifically overcoming things.

    I think those ides of weaknesses and strengths are really just marks of seeking validation, and not necessarily validation from others, but more the idea that you are justifying your own existence.

    You ask what it means to be human? I would say the very fact that you live and breath in the form you are in makes you human, and therefore valid. Precious because of the gift of being "lucid for but a moment".

    Life for me has become a matter of going after the things that I want, and feel that my heart and soul want. (Yep I, atheist that I am used the word soul, there is just not a better word to describe those inner pulls, and desires.) So often in striving for the things that I really want and desire I do actually strengthen and improve things that I viewed as weaknesses in the past, but those improvements don't come as the result of some goal to improve. They come as a side-effect of going after things I want. Does that make sense? I may have to write another comment after I think on this a little bit more.