Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Say WHAT? (I think it's a good one!)

"Everything has been figured out, except how to live."
~Jean-Paul Sartre ~
French Philosopher 1905-1980

I don't (by any means) claim to be a philosopher, as Jean-Paul Sartre was.  Although, I'm pretty sure a synonym to the term is "thinker"... and by golly, I am always thinkin'!  However, having not studied much about the subject, I do not know much about Existentialism or how I feel about the topic.

Here is what I believe.  
We are born and genetically predisposed to some things.  Someone I greatly admire once said this to me, "Leslie, your brain works differently than anyone else's brain.  It is time to remove YOUR judgments about how your brain works.  Then you can start learning how to work with what you've got."  It was simple and profound.  And, it reminds me that I was born with all these parts.  Some work more conventionally than others. 

I also believe ALL of our surroundings and experiences have a HUGE impact on each of us.  (Again, personal belief, I'm no expert!)  Every night these days, I go to sleep listening to a book by Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars.  In one of the chapters he is working with a man that regained his sight after over 40 years.  The strangest thing for me was to consider that this man had no experience seeing!  And, on April 3, 2013, as I looked into my beautiful NEW niece's eyes, it seemed so obvious!  She was seeing for the first time.  She was looking at lights and shadows and what babies look at.  She had no idea what shape my face was or the color of my eyes.  She will have to learn through experience and her surroundings exactly what she is seeing.  The man Dr. Oliver Sacks was working with had lived for many years learning about his surroundings, dealing with life's everyday and not so everyday experiences and a quick surgery changed his experience and flipped his surroundings upside down.  The combination of my two experiences got me wondering... HOW MUCH DO OUR EXPERIENCES AND SURROUNDINGS SHAPE OUR LIVES?  Or should I say, teach us how to see the world?   
Some people learn at a different pace and some are not able to process things at all.  Let's add faith, family values, societal rules and regulations, social expectations, social awkwardness, wanting to be accepted, different resources, and a whole mess of other things heaped on top.  And, the most unfortunate and beyond our grasp is the trauma some experience... (Are you kidding me???)

Let me see if I can summarize this.  We are all built differently.  We each experience different surroundings.  And, because we are all different, we may be in the same space at the time as someone else AND have very different experiences.  All of these things combined with CHOICE are what begin to teach us how to see the world and in turn begin shaping each of us.  Nature and nurture are just as flawed as we are.

I have already lived many years searching for answers.  Some questions that have plagued me? "WHO AM I?" "Why can't I do this right?"  "How does everyone seem to know how to play the game while I feel like I am on the wrong field?"

Sometimes in order to see the goal... you have to start running FIRST!  Which is why I couldn't see the forrest for the trees!  Also, your goal is your own!

I'll share MY answer now.  I shall quit asking someone to tell me how to do life!  I will do what I think is right and I will DRAW on my knowledge and experience.  I will DRAW on the strength of others!  I will DRAW on my God for wisdom and take His word as truth.  I don't have to have an answer to each question.  When something comes up I can DRAW on the support of my friends, family, therapist, and (a super exciting part!) even strangers!  I don't have to figure out HOW TO LIVE all alone...  And, I can only do one thing at a time.  

Did anybody notice my emphasis on a certain word?  
Another incredible thing I have learned is... I can DRAW or paint, etc. to express my emotions when I don't have the words or the clarity to see them.  I can DRAW to distract and keep my emotions under control until I have help.  Craziest thing?  If I find myself worrying about "How to live?"  I can DRAW something in the room to keep me in the present moment.  
Vincent Van Gogh painted self portraits. I draw Mr. Van Gogh's self portraits! This was one of the first things I have ever drawn... AND, I did it while under mega-distress AND... I got through my moment!  Now that's some crazy if I've ever seen crazy!
So, considering the vastness of humanity and (a bigger word???) for our personal experiences.  My best advice to everyone is to...  Pay attention to how things work and grow!  Try to do things.  Decide what you think is right and wrong.  Ask for help from wise people.  Use your faith as a guide.  Don't give up!!!  Cause according to this Jean-Paul dude... nobody has this "life" thing figured out!

Now, let's get goin'!
Your Favorite Oxymoron

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