“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” Macbeth, W. S.
Live in the present. Think of the future. Learn from the past.
We humans do not have monolithic existences. Instead, we have an existence made out of components. I propose three major components as the main experiences of existence: living , thinking and learning. Here is what they mean.
Living represents most of the physical, biological and some psychological activities. Living is the tangible part of the experience, the part that produces pleasure.
Thinking represents the exploration of the experience and it is between tangible and intangible. By induction, inference and deduction we discover life and we expand it way beyond the immediate stimuli, we push our lives towards some imaginary horizon. That is why thinking is the part of existence which produces joy.
Learning is the integration of the experience and it is completely intangible. Even the purpose of learning is vague and undefined. We’re not talking about the learning done in school, but about the human possibility for self improvement, the capacity of spiritual, material and physical evolution. The motivation for learning is different in each and every individual, and it is in a direct connection with the lives they’ve had. Because learning leads to evolution it is that part of the experience which produces happiness.
What I propose further on is that each one of these experiences should occur at the right time, and at the right time only. Let me explain.
Living in the present begets trust.
Living in the present connects us with the our senses and by doing so it creates a positive feedback loop allowing us to repeat pleasant activities. The human living in the present is more organized, it has more time because its past and future are not busy with living. One who lives in the present feels everything as more intense and often concludes that life is worthwhile.
Thinking about the future begets comprehension.
Thinking about the future forces one to create a logical string of events and to predict their outcome. The human who thinks about the future has more success, more stability and becomes wiser every day. They’ll often conclude that life is beautiful.
Learning from the past begets humility.
Learning from the past hands us the possibility to see that everything makes sense, a sense that is something bigger than oneself, and this acts like a shield against the existential crisis, which is the worst blow of our egoist natures. The human who learns from the past has more patience, becomes open for compassion, see the bigger picture and probably concludes that there is at least some divinity in life.
The human who is confident, wise and humble is an individualized human.
These three processes, confidence, wisdom and humility lead to individualization. Today, across the world, there extremely few individualized humans. The reason is that most of us experience some of the following combinations, bad ideas.
I live in the future and I think of the present
Bad idea. Living in the future begets disappointment because nothing ever gets to be experienced and felt at maximum intensity. Thinking of the present generates worries, because it is simply an effort to figure out what happens while it is happening. This is impossible and hence there is a constant fear that everything could collapse at any moment.
I live in the past and I learn from the present
Bad idea. Living in the past is the sure path to depression because all experiences have been already had and leave the present flavorless. Learning from the present is another way of defining shallowness: all I know is what is, what was and what will be is of no interest to me. Shallowness removes everything out of context, because of the scarcity of information which the fleeting present provides. The present IS and that’s about all you can learn from it.
I think of the past and I learn from the future
Bad idea. When you think of the past you give birth to regrets because all you do is a constant sorting and ordering of events by our skewed ideals, denaturing their meaning by ripping apart the sequence your events occurred in. Idealization crates regret (in its easy form we call it nostalgia). The frustration regret builds grinds the human spirit to the finest of sands. Learning from the future makes one a control freak, because it is as if you would apply the scientific method — hypothesis, demonstration and conclusion — to life itself. Unfortunately this activity, by which you really get over yourself to have the future happen in one specific way, so that you can test your hypothesis, makes of you a control freak AND it puts you in everyone else’s path to stumble upon, individualized or not.
All the bad ideas above are not random combinations I made up, but instead they are the result of one single error: the time of your existence are never empty. If you live in the future, then you occupy that time of existence with living and therefore thinking will occupy the free spot in the present. And that’s what happens for all the bad ideas above, one of living, thinking or learning is misplaced and the vacancy is occupied by another activity.
All the bad ideas make one thing and one thing only: justifications!
Disappointments justify worrying (so much has happened to me, of course I am worried), worrying justifies disappointments; depression justifies shallowness (if I can’t find anything worthwhile, why bother looking in the depth of the world) and shallowness justifies depression; regret justifies control (it was better before — calling out ya’ll Trumpist baby boomers — so I must make things in the future as they were), and control justifies regret.
Instead of an ending, here is an exercise of consequences:
- lucidity is the peak of discerning, discerning is what makes the wise,
- wisdom is the peak of of reason, reason is what makes the evolved spirit,
- evolution is the peak of of an accomplished life, and accomplishment is what makes the individualized
- individualization is the peak of of self-knowledge. self-knowledge is what makes awareness
Awareness is the peak of of existence.