Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30, 2015 - On Being Human


Here in Mackerel Cove, everyone is fulfilling their role to a tee.  The lobstermen are catching lobsters.  The restaurant workers are cooking and serving them.  The customers are buying them as good customers do.  Even the lobsters are obliging by being perfect lobsters and allowing everyone else to do what they do with lobsters.  Everyone and everything is doing what it thinks it ought to do.

Everything under the sun is involved in an intimate dance with its identity.  The birds, the animals, and the fish don’t have a choice about their identity.  They can only be birds, animals, or fish as the case may be, but they play their role to perfection and glorify in its simplicity.  They give everything they’ve got to being the actual thing that they are:  the bird, the animal, the fish, etc.

The lobsters of Mackerel Cove.

But humans have a choice.  They can’t choose their species, but they can choose what they “do” as a member of their species.  A human doesn’t identify as being a human in the way that an animal completely identifies with being an animal.  On the contrary.  Most humans don’t think about or even realize that they are the species known as “humans.”  They instead identify with what they “do,” and that usually means their job.  There aren’t many people out there who would dream of doing anything other than what they think they’re supposed to do.  So the baker bakes, the singer sings, the fisherman fishes, and the writer writes.

It is not enough for most people that they simply be “people” and nothing else.  If you asked someone what it is that a “person” does, how to describe the being called “human” and how it lives and interacts with its environment, they might look at you as if you had gone quite mad.  Undoubtedly, they would launch into a discussion of various professions.  Almost always, however, the idea of the “being human” would float away on faerie wings.

On this lazy hazy day when the writer is writing and the fisherman is fishing and the lobster is being a lobster, I sit and wonder what our world would be like if we all stopped “doing” and just started “being.”  It’s a dangerous and rebellious thought.  The lobster, at least, is true to itself.  The human . . . not so much.

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