A Purpose Driven Mind…
Life, death and meaning – they have been woven through my thoughts since I can remember. It consumes me; the value of a life, the reasons for death and the meaning of all that happens in-between. I scarcely look at anything; my daughter’s eyes, a neighbor’s dog, a faucet, a fence post or a Pop-Tart without contemplating the value and the meaning of it all.
The biggest struggle I contend with is my daily steering between the great magnificence of life, and the utter insignificance of it all. Not just my life and my meaning, but all the lives and meaning that are interconnected with my own at a given moment.
At the core of it are two opposing perspectives…
- That in the scope of a vast and far reaching universe, the life of any being, critter or circumstance here on earth, seems insignificant, if not outright meaningless.
- That in the scope of any moment, all life and circumstance I am proximate to and interacting with, be it my neighbor or a sea cucumber, is profoundly important and most meaningful.
I think of light. Of light being a wave or a particle, quantum physicist John Polkinghorne once wrote…
“Light can be a wave or a particle, but it can’t be both at the same time. Ask light a wave question and it will give you a wave answer. Ask it a particle question and it will give you a particle answer, but it can’t give you both answers at once…”
That’s how a feel about life most days; mine, yours or anyone else’s. It’s either meaningless or important, but it can’t be both at the same time.
The Spies Within Me…
Also in my head from an early age, were those people who I envisioned judging me. As a child, I felt in a near literal way, that there was always a half-dozen or so people who had their eyes on me, 24/7. These were a rotating cast of real life characters in my life, usually my elders, that I imagined viewing me and judging me from an ethereal conference room somewhere in the distance. In my mind, they were observing me, discussing and deliberating over all my actions, yet never sharing their conclusions with me.
This feeling that a half-dozen or so people were watching me, influenced many of my actions and behaviors in my younger days. Sometimes my actions aimed to impress this pantheon in my head. Other times, I allowed my thoughts and actions to drift into murky waters, without much regard for their opinion.
Though I would grow to disbelieve the people in my head were literally watching me, the feeling that I am constantly being watched and judged by those I look up to, has never left me. I’m certain that feeling is the closest we can ever get to knowing God.
A Creative Outlet…
As a creative outlet, digital technology has given me the tools to express myself and to live my life in ways the analog world never had. Social media has given me something to go with that – an audience. That has been the most dubious aspect of social media for me – that more people than ever are judging my thoughts and actions, just like the pantheon of elders in my head when I was young. Of course, this has been the result of me inviting them in, and subsequently throwing it all out there to be seen.
For over a decade now, I have made good use of the tools of technology. The tools I have used the most are the word processor and the smartphone camera. They have become a part of how I think and an extension of who I am. The vehicle that I have used to deliver my product of being me has been social media platforms such Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even this WordPress blog.
I started slow, but my use/dependency on these tools and these platforms has increased over time, to the point where creating and sharing via digital technologies has become central to my life. It has become my biggest active priority – perhaps too big. I have come to view myself as a social media addict and artist; writer, photographer, moral philosopher and on occasion, even a comedian, who just can’t quit.
Somewhere along the way, the line between the analog Roy of yesterday, and the digital Roy of today has gotten blurry. I often feel lost in the sense of who I really am. Am I the guy who lived his life, for most of his life, keeping his thoughts and ideas mostly to himself, only to share them with a few close friends….? Or, am I the guy who doesn’t think a single thought or make a single move without considering how my social media Ohana might react to it…?
I’m both, I suppose. Like light being a wave or a particle, I just can’t be both at the same time.
I’m now 10 days into a Facebook hiatus – again. It has already become clear to me how significant the presence of social media has been in most of my thoughts and actions in recent years. I’ve come to realize that under the surface in so much of what I do and what I think, I am constantly considering how my friends would view my thoughts and actions if I were to share them on social media. I scarcely look at, do or think anything these days without wanting to share it, or at least consider how people might act if I were to share it.
With that said, my most challenging thought in stepping away from social media has been this: What good is doing anything, if I’m not going to share it and have it be validated…?
The Junta In My Head Part II…
I’ve probably thought far too much about all of this, and if you’ve read this far, you probably agree. I thank you for hanging in there with the crazy.
When I was 10 years old, I felt a half-dozen people or so, were watching my every move, and judging me. I acted sparingly because of it, as I silently worked out the whys of life in my head. Forty-five years later, thanks to the digital age, I now try to work out the whys of the world with my online performance art, and I’ve invited hundreds to view and judge my own personal Truman Show, you included. I once thought the whole world was staged just for me, and mostly, I still do. In the digital age, at least get to choose my audience.
As far as answering the all whys in the world, and searching for meaning, I’m certain life is meaningful and important. I’m just as certain that all life is meaningless and unimportant. And the only thing I think I truly know is that it can’t be both at once… Jhciacb
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