Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Challenge is Truth

Okay, let’s see if I can get my feet wet here on the new blog. My mind is filled with thoughts and ideas I’ve been cultivating for years, so maybe it’s a good time to take a few out and dust them off.

Lately, I’ve been reading tons of philosophy. I don’t subscribe completely to any one school of thought, but I will say my existential readings lately have been really hitting home. I found the following list somewhere online (forgive my lack of sourcing, I’m quite scatterbrained lately. Should the owner of anything I quote find me, however, feel free to message me and I’ll link appropriately.)

What existentialism believes in:
Human free will
Human nature is chosen through life choices
A person is best when struggling against their individual nature, fighting for life
Decisions are not without stress and consequences
There are things that are not rational
Personal responsibility and discipline is crucial
Society is unnatural and its traditional religious and secular rules are arbitrary
Worldly desire is futile

What existentialism does not support:
wealth, pleasure, or honor make the good life
social values and structure control the individual
accept what is and that is enough in life
science can and will make everything better
people are basically good but ruined by society or external forces
“I want my way, now!” or “It is not my fault!” mentality

There’s obviously way more up there in that list than I can possibly talk about in a single blog post, and there’s so much I want to discuss, but I thought I’d choose the one that stood out most to me upon first finding that list:

“A person is best when struggling against their individual nature, fighting for life.”

When I read that particular line, I sat back and thought, “Hmmm.” Then probably, “Wow.” And then I’m sure it was, “Hell yes.”

Human nature is a funny thing. I think it’s part nature, part nurture. It’s part our upbringing (family), and part regional (where we’re from). We’re raised by certain people in a certain way, and in certain places where things are believed or expected. We’re stuffed into these tiny human shaped boxes and expected to fit. But if the individual human nature is strong enough, it will break out of the constraints set upon it by those nurturing and societal aspects. This may be the period of early adulthood (or mid, or late, hell who knows) of “finding oneself.” This, in itself is probably what I’ve always thought of as the power of a strong spirit and human nature. It’s that place where you can shed social constraints and just be. Just live. Not give a shit about following the flock.

But the idea above, of fighting against that individual nature of your self, if and once you actually manage to find it, is pretty revolutionary (to me). It’s when the fight to find yourself isn’t enough. Once you do, you must challenge what you’ve found, who you are. Mentally, spiritually, wholly. Investigate and discover the inner realms of what you are doing and for what purposes. Are you a worker ant, content with what you’re supposed to be content with, what everyone else is content with, or are you thirsty for more? For knowledge and life, and the fire and growth of your own truth?

I think it’s about constantly questioning why and how you are, swimming upstream against the things that come naturally to you that you don’t accept as who you want to be. What parts of your nature do you accept? Which parts can you work on and grow? It’s not about looking for happiness and fulfillment in the truth. Not entirely. But about growing and growing until your spirit is fuller and richer and more untouchable than you could have ever imagined. Until you aren’t fighting yourself anymore. Until you start to really, somewhere along the way, just start to be.

It’s an exciting prospect, but feels like something terrifyingly difficult. Yet so limitless in its power to provide meaning and a worthwhile, if rocky, lifetime path.

It also feels inevitable and irrefutable if you’re looking for authenticity of the self.

And now I want to know, what do you think?

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