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Random Ramblings: What Am I Supposed to be Doing?
The road most traveled
I find frequently, when I’m alone and able to let my thoughts wander an aimless path, that their bounding steps constantly return to cover one fascinating and unexplainable piece of ground. This terrain is covered in a well-worn, beaten track, because they travel this same route repeatedly. It's a favorite place. They know it more intimately and completely than anyone else and yet they never grow tired it. It stays unattainably intriguing.
My thoughts. They wander back and forth down this same familiar path, searching it, examining it, studying it. Sometimes it's calming. Sometimes it's exciting. But sometimes, their endless, aimless wandering causes me to lose my sense of peace when they travel along this road. Some odd scent or twisted, exposed root alerts them and makes them notice it; they focus. They become like a terrier, or hound dog, worrying at this new hole where they've discovered a new unknown elusive scent, and they seek it. But they can never find it. They refuse to give up the hunt, though. They struggle on, burrowing deeper, digging at it, sniffing, looking, listening, trying to understand this path they know so well, and yet can’t explain. They try to map it, organize it, label all it’s streets and alleyways.
They try to make sense out of it. It’s a curving, shifting, twisted path, and with my innate lack of any directional sense, my thoughts often become hopelessly lost while traveling the most familiar path they know.
To put all that into one short sentence: I'm always wondering; What am I, and what am I doing here?
When I was a kid, I wondered at it. No; I marveled at it. I was a huge miracle to myself. Simply being alive, seeing out of MY eyes, feeling with MY hands, watching my finger move when I told it to.
No, wait; I didn’t tell it to, and yet it did; but I knew that I had wanted it to. It actually moved before I could formulate the command in words in my head. "Move." My body responded to my commands faster than I could think. Is this not fascinating, all by itself? I could ponder that and be amazed for hours.
I marveled that I moved from one room to another before I fully comprehended that I even wanted to move. I would be overwhelmingly amazed by that. People would look at me curiously as I stood there in what must have appeared to be a mindless stupor, while I pondered, wide eyed, about how my body knew what I wanted it to do before my mind had actually commanded it.
Scents sights and sounds amazed and enthralled me. I used to seek out touch and texture and savor both pain and pleasure. I was in awe of my ability to simply experience it. I don't think most normal people experience the world the way I did, when I was young.
Autistic kids do. I see them do something awkward and odd looking, while the adults look at them with concern and consternation. "What are they doing? What are they thinking?" you can see these people thinking.
I know what they are doing. They are experiencing.
Why am I?
My main point of amazement has always been that I exist. Period.
Frequently I'm amazed by how many people don’t ever think about this at all.
Existing is just normal; after all, everyone does it. It’s completely ordinary; commonplace; not even worth thinking about.
A miracle? No.
People jadedly plod through life and are forced to learn the rules of the society they were born into. If they were born a little bit amazed, they will have that wonder explained to them and taught to them in a manner that suits the physical, material world they were born into, and it will quickly cease to be amazing.
We take the fact that we exist for granted. Even now, when we have realized how little life there is in the entire universe. We constantly search for it, and down deep we hope that there is more of it out there, but we have yet to find it.
Life is more rare that platinum; yet we, who live in a plethora of it, see it as an overly abundant congestion. In fact, humanity finds the majority of it a nuisance. It has to be contained and controlled.
When I was finally able to get past simply being amazed by existing, my thoughts logically turned to pondering the purpose of existing. I was a growing child, experiencing new things, and constantly learning.
I interacted with other living things and stood on the same level with them, when I was young. I wasn't a superior being. I shared understanding, meaningful moments with the dog, and participated in the celebration of life with the birds as the joy of simply existing erupted from the tiny throats in spring.
I felt. I knew I was moving inexplicably towards... something. I had absolutely no doubt that there was some purpose for which I was made. I can't call it a belief; I have to say I knew. I knew, and still know, that there is room on this earth, a place and a purpose, for every living thing.
But what is that purpose?
I grew up expectantly watching and waiting for it. When it happened, I would know.
Now here I am, moving toward the silver and gold years of my life, and I am still waiting expectantly for that moment when I will serve my true purpose. But now, when my thoughts travel that well beaten path that is the very heart of me, they follow a new scent. A combined scent.
When my thoughts travel, and mull over the actions I have taken and the lessons I have learned, they suddenly see everything as a whole. They realize how far that path has extended, shifted, and twisted. They see all the holes that have been dug into it, all the changes that have been made to it over time. So complacent and familiar have they become, with this path, that they had overlooked the obvious; how well worn and beaten down it has become.
This realization has shocked me into full alertness. At some point, the youth who thought she had all the time in the world to make her mark on it, has started to become old. It's a shock, when you raise your head from examining the path to look up ahead, and see for the first time that there are endings to it. Slow, drawn out endings, and quick, abrupt endings. Sooner or later, you will have to walk down one of them.
I think youth ends when you truly comprehend that this life is not infinite. You cannot seek your purpose forever, for when then will you accomplish it?
Youth experiences, explores, and learns. Maturity acts on the wisdom it has gathered, and the old and wise share all this with the young. Full circle.
I have lived well over half my life with my head down, exploring, fascinated and amazed by the miracles of life and tracing all the scents on the path. Now that I have looked up, and seen the various ends to the path, I am dismayed by the fact that I still don't know the answer.
What is my purpose? Have I already done it? Is it still coming? Or did I totally miss it completely?
I was supposed to know what it was, and when I was supposed to do it so that life as a whole would improve from this generation to the next. Have I failed?
Now, my thoughts surface to focus on the whole of what's outside of me; they look outward rather than in. I scrutinize this world we have created for ourselves, and I study this thing we call the universe, which we have been taught is supposed to simply unfold the way it should, the way it has been since the dawn of time, expanding in a perfect pattern and harmony that extends beyond all human comprehension.
I see Life, as it exists, beyond my own existence. Much of it is violent and cruel, with mass extinctions and natural disasters. I see that death is essential in order to feed life. It revolves in an endless circle of life and death, unending, and yet it isn't stagnant. There is a sense that it continues to evolve, change, and adapt relentlessly in order to reach some final conclusion. Some final purpose. Life has followed a fairly tractable path, right up until human life started to exist.
Why are we?
Human life, on a universal scale, is miniscule. But human life, on Earth’s scale, is congested and overly abundant. And from our history, it would appear that human life doesn’t have any power whatsoever, unless the multitudes lift up one of their own up and give them that power.
Does that one life, with it’s money and fame, really have so much more value than the life that is born in the midst of a congested, overpopulated environment?
One path is to follow the one we have chosen to lead us. We will follow them, and change the world by leveling mountains, building roads and cities and factories.
Another path is to be that leader. But with our numbers, the overabundance of us, that's a ridiculous suggestion. Impossible. We cannot all be a leader. And for this path, we must be chosen. We cannot lead if we have no one to follow us.
Some will follow a path that leads to a tortured existence where they stay focused within, and gain very little knowledge of anything beyond the pain that is gnawing away at the inside of them. This path leads nowhere and helps no one. So why does it exist at all?
Are these paths the only paths we were meant to follow? Do they emulate the true purpose of life, helping us to unfold the universe along the course that it was meant?
Have we been complacently following only the well-worn, beaten paths like the ones we have in our own minds, exploring and discovering all their tiniest variations, perfecting them to the point that there seem to be no other choices to follow? Has life been traveling along a closed circuit, as my thoughts have in my mind? Have we been thinking that we as humans have all the time in eternity to find our true purpose?
Look up from the path you are on, and you will see it, too. We are stuck in a closed circuit, and we are focused only on ourselves, on our own, individual lives. Our true purpose? We haven't found it yet, because we haven't taken the time to look up and see where the path that effects all life is headed. The search for our purpose has gone awry due to humanity going off on a tangent of it's own. We search for materialistic gain, commercialism, urban development, technology, and individual self value. We search for ways to make money, make life easier to live, make work easier to do. We search for power, fame, and fortune.
Humanity, as a whole, has followed the path where we either choose or simply accept that a few individuals will lead us. What is our criteria, for choosing these leaders? Will they make life evolve to become stronger and healthier? Will they manipulate the material world for the betterment of all living things?
What is it, exactly, that we look for in the folks we have chosen? Do we choose them in an attempt to improve the long term outcome of all life? Are all our main focuses and strategies bent on preserving this rare, precious "platinum" that has been found only here, on this one planet?
No. The masses are divided; we are not all one united force of life; we only think about it in terms of individual pieces, and the pieces that matter are only the ones that effect and enhance our own existence. Our thinking is focused on a much smaller, individual, materialistic scale. The leaders we have chosen focus mostly on using the mass of individual pieces that have raised them up to make themselves more powerful and wealthy. They in essence, think exactly the same way as the folks who have raised them up, only on a grander scale. The pieces that matter to them are only the ones that effect and enhance their own existence, and so they cater to those pieces as they see their value.
That's called the trickle down effect. Those who lead are paid more than those who follow. And we, as a whole, accept this as being the most rational and logical path for humanity to follow. We have followed it since the dawning of our kind.
Why do we allow corporations to grow, banks to grow, governments to grow? In order for them to grow, the people who create, build, and lead them have to be raised up onto the shoulders of the multitudes. These things would not exist if they were never built, and one man alone cannot build them. We, as a whole, have to agree to it, and participate in it to make it happen. The companies we work for right now would not exist if we didn’t work for them.
How do you really feel about the company you work for? Is their purpose, their corporate mission statement, something that you really believe in? Will it help all life to benefit from it in the future? Do you want this business to grow and do well? Or are you just worried about your immediate family, insurance benefits, and getting a paycheck?
Humans created all the situations they live in today, and not any one person can point the finger at any one other. We are all one, and we are all involved.
Today, we still have nations at war, leaders who wish to conquer and suppress, and people living in overpopulated squalor, dying of disease and starvation. Animals are going extinct and great tracts of earth are being stripped of all life and resources to make room for humanity.
This should be our focus. We should be making life better for everyone, for all living things, across the board.
But it's daunting. We look at these large, massive events in frustration and wonder what it is that we can really do. We send clothes, money, and food to charity. We volunteer our time in soup kitchens. We run marathons and sell baked goods to raise money for important causes. Yes, we see improvement here and there, but shouldn't we be seeing a large scale improvement?
What happened to all the money we sent to aid the folks affected by Hurricane Katrina? Why are people still starving in Africa? Why are terrorists still threatening and killing people by the hundreds? We've poured our money into these things, we've enlisted and allowed our children to enlist in the military to fight these things. Yet still, here we are. It's daunting, it's frustrating and worse, nothing seems to be helping. It's like taking the heart and soul of your caring and throwing it into a black hole, where it has no effect at all. We become cynical and jaded and...
...and we turn our back on all of it. We can't help, it's obvious. No point in trying. We might as well just concentrate on our own, because that is the only place we seem to have any effect.
Let's focus on the why. Why doesn't anything we do seem to be helping anyone, in this country or any country?
It's because us. It is. Each and every one of us. It's because of
1. Who we raise up, or allow, to lead us.
2. Where are individual focuses lie. We have no united vision.
3. Our ignorance. We all need to look up from the individual paths that interest us and look into the future. Not my future, nor your future. Our future. We all need to focus our vision on the future of all life.
An example of number 1: The aid we send to other countries doesn't get through to the people who need it. It's confiscated by those who lead. Who chooses these leaders? Not the people. These leaders choose themselves. But the fault is still in the people, the masses of people, for accepting them, and allowing them to do this. These people fear for their own individual lives and the lives of their children, and they look for somebody to come and save them. They look for a leader, but they are too afraid to raise and follow one of their own choosing.
An example for number 2: The aid we send to save endangered species and rainforests only has little effect. The focus is on the money that can be made from body parts and resources. In truth, humanity doesn't really care about the fate of the animal world - if a squirrel runs out in front of your car, and the choice is between you dying or the squirrel, the squirrel is out of luck. So when the choice is between making space and food for humanity or space and food for the Great Panda, who is going to win that battle, in the end? We focus on our own needs, not the needs of all.
An example of number 3: Because of the choices we've made and things we have chosen to focus on, our world, which supports all of life and the only life we are aware of in the universe, may not be able to support us for much longer. That is because of ignorance. That is because we will not look up from the path we are following. We grit our teeth stubbornly, plow forward and refuse to look up, because this is the only path we KNOW. Change of any kind is frightening, but changing things to make them totally and completely different is terrifying. We will not believe the facts that are presented to us, because if we do, we must radically change the way we have been thinking for hundreds of years.
Those leaders who are rich and powerful and enjoy a life of tyranny certainly don't want to give up what they have and share it out. Leaders of democratic countries don't want to lose money by upsetting the lobbyists whose focus is on profit, not on environmental issues. Upsetting the folks whose focus is on environmental issues is not a great worry, as these folks are unpopular, and can offer the leaders no profit.
Corporations don't want to use their surplus monies to invest in new expensive methods of operations, they would rather give out their money to shareholders, and give bonuses and incentives. Food industries don't want to lose their profits by taking the popular unhealthy products off the shelf, or they know they will only lose money by trying to sell healthy food with less sugar. Some other company will continue selling these foods and get the business, while theirs will go bankrupt. And the idea of making items that are durable and long lasting instead of disposable would seriously effect the bottom line for any corporation. Value, in our marketing world, is no longer a word that is applied to the products themselves. The value is on the revenue.
If we ourselves make good money and live a comfortable lifestyle, we don't want to give that up in order to change the world for the better. We don't want to take a pay cut so that companies can do a complete overhaul on their manufacturing systems. Outside of our own circle of influence, we don't really want to use our own energy and resources to make the world a better place either. We don't walk up and down the sides of the roads gathering trash just because, we'd rather use that energy going to the gym, or jogging. We don't want to view all life as having equal value because that's just ridiculous. It's blatantly obvious we are superior to all other forms of life. We also don't want to have to change our beliefs and traditions, or the way we think about and place value on things.
If you ask me, the source of a lot of our troubles is in this one sentence: I am right and they are wrong. The rest is in the value of money.
We all want to remain unique individuals. We are so afraid of losing that. We don't want anyone to control us or tell us what to do, or make us behave or believe a certain way. But there is no reason why we should have to. There is no reason why we can't continue to be the individuals we are while focusing our vision on a united goal: The betterment of all living things. All the unique ideas of every individual could fill this vision with a variety of unlimited possibilities.
What we need is balance.
We need the focus of our values to change to a balanced perspective. The value of life should not be based on money. The things we find morally offensive must change. There is no right or left, black or white, or right or wrong. ALL things, bad and good, are necessary to make a balanced, healthy, life supporting world.
What should we find morally offensive? Things that cause detrimental harm to life. We focus our disapproval and take a sometimes violent offense to things that are really completely harmless, while really harmful activities are accepted or shrugged off. On which of these should we be spending our time and energy trying to eradicate; the marriage of gays and lesbians, or animal abuse and neglect? Which of these do you see in the news or in the paper every day?
All of us are on different levels of our own journey. Some of us are focused without, some of us are focused within. We all seek our own individual purpose; I have searched for mine for years. and this is what I have found. We have factual, scientific proof that we must change our ways for the planet we inhabit to support us. We have to change every individual focus. We have to choose our leaders to act on that focus. We have to change radically as individuals for the course of all life to improve for the better. And we have to do it now, before it's too late.