Living in History

Life does not exist in a vacuum. Every living organism is the product of complex chemical and biological mechanisms that we are just beginning to truly understand.

Minds, likewise, do not exist in a vacuum. Our days do not unfold in a vacuum: they are not sequences of events disconnected and disengaged from each other.

Yet we live, for the most part, like our actions do not connect to reality. We pretend that the events that unfold around us are something that we have no control over.

We pretend that we have no history and no past, because it lets us shape our future according to our whims and our fantasies.

One of the things that I’ve noticed as I’ve been writing more over the past few weeks is that nothing I have written is truly a product of its own being. Nothing of substance comes from immateriality. My own work, or others’ work, serves as the basis for my thoughts.

But that’s not always easy to see. Our consciousness has a level of systems designed to shield us from things. We abstract away things for reasons we don’t yet understand–perhaps to avoid cognitive or psychological overload–and we default to that position.

And the danger with that abstraction is that it hides itself away. But we can become aware of it. There are times when we see series of events, concepts peeking out between our conveniences of understanding, that make us question the pinholes through which we view the world.

What is the antidote?

There isn’t one, at least that I’ve found. These systems are underlying foundations to consciousness. They may be flawed, but the alternative is to undo the underpinnings of what we are.

But there is a treatment. Connect with others, connect with the world. Approach knowledge eagerly.

Learn to live inside history, with history, the grand archetypal events that have established the pinnacles and abyssal faults of the human condition.

Learn to live within history, alongside history, in the little events that build up a complex and nuanced being.

History is how we can best study what we truly are. We are not machines, we are not gods, we are not beasts of the field. But we have an aspect of each within us. We tolerate suffering. We seek virtue and creation. We sin.

Those things make us human. They will make our descendants human. They will make our creations human.

Because we all are living inside history, whether we want to or not.

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