a reply to: CriticalStinker
And you are always too kind to my ramblings Stinker.
When I was a junior in high school we had a civics class. At one point in the class our teacher was going to have us do debates. I got all excited.
Hoo boy, I wanted to stand with someone else in the front of the class and debate which ever topic of the day was import at that time.
Our teacher gave us a lesson in the civics book to read for a week and to come prepared to debate the one of the five issues that were laid out in the
book. So, I read it and read it and read it trying to take in the essence of both sides of all the arguments and internalize them so that I would be
prepared to truly discuss and argue which ever side of the issue I came down on. This to me was like it would be my admission into adulthood,
expressing my own opinions and positions rather than just filling in the blanks kind of stuff.
So the first day of the class debates came and the first two were chosen to stand at the front of the class room and debate. As I sat at my desk I was
rapt to see what two of the smarter students would debate their issue. Each stood there and basically repeated the arguments outlined in the text,
tossing back and forth only what they had read over the previous nights. Nothing more, nothing added, nothing original. The class applauded and the
teacher gave them A's
I sat there wondering, '' is this all any of it is" . "Is this all anyone can do is to repeat what has already been recited or read in a book? That
was really a flash point for me Stinker. I sat there and watched the pride those two students took from their debate and just thought, wow....
At that point I decided, why I can't really figure, that I would never try to pass off information, words, ah, positions knowledge that had just come
from a book with no deeper spirit behind it other than what a tape recorder could do. I would only talk in discussion about what I knew, not what
others knew and I was only repeating.
Well, smart guy Terry, that was much easier said than done. Over the next few weeks I came to realize that really, I knew nothing, really. So I began
that journey of discovery trying to find what I really knew. Down I went into that rabbit hole of existentialism, Down. I became reclusive because
noting was coming up from my depths. But then I hit upon it. All I could really say I knew was that I thought. That there seemed to be a process
within me that was at least thinking. I '' knew' that I was. And that thinking became the root of my climb back out of that hole.
Two years later in college and two years of deeper thinking, which of course left me quite isolated from others and feeling as if I could be quite
mad, I took a philosophy class. In that class we of course read about Rene Descartes. His cogito knocked me out of my chair. I knew I was not mad
because this famous guy, this genius of modern philosophy and mathematics had done what I had done way before me. Hoopla.
If you have read this far Stinker I guess you might like this next part as well so I will add it in to this story.
Around that same time I had come to a barrier in my discovery process.That barrier was that I could not make the leap from knowing that I existed, I
mean really knowing, to knowing with the same depth of comprehension that others existed as well. Are you following this? I mean, how was I to know
that everyone else was not just a figment of my own thought processes or just illusion. Can you see here how off the charts I was?
I may never have made it out of that hole I had dug myself into had it not been for one night in our bedroom with my brother. He was two years younger
and nearly as smart as me, ha ha. We began to talk, really talk about life and personal thoughts and stuff and I found myself engaging in my first
really adult conversation. It's hard to describe how much this meant to me. We went on for a couple of hours.
Finally at one point I had to take a leak. I got up and told him I would be right back. As I opened the door I was overcome with fear. That old fear
that everything outside of myself might only be just an illusion, a mind trick of my own making and that should I leave the room, my brother might
just pop out of existence until I returned at which point he would pop back into existence to resume the charade of life.
I sat back down and he asked me what I was doing. I explained to him what I was going through, that now, having really met my own brother and bonded
as we had, I was in deep fear that there was the possibility that he was only an illusion and that I did not want to take the chance that should he
just pop out of existence while I was gone, what assurances did I have that he would pop back when I came back from the loo. He said not to worry,
that he too had often had this fear about other people being illusions and that he would do his very best to not pop out while I was down the hall.
So I went, trepidaciously. As I came back to the room hoping that he would still be there, I opened the door. There he was stark naked standing on top
of his clothes dresser with his arms spread and one leg in the air in the pose of the ''Winged Victory'' statue. Existentially I leapt.
Not in my wildest imaginings, from nowhere within myself could I have anticipated this statue. This was nor could it be anything other than not only
my brother, but the entirety of existence laughing at me shouting , ''it's real, it's real''...
So I went from ''I am'' on into the ''I and 'Thou''.
That was over 50 years ago and this is the first time I have thought back on that night in years. So thank you for that.
As well, you say to me ''You also have something that many don't, and that's self awareness. You're constantly cognizant of where you stand while
empathizing why other people see things the way they do'' I want you to know Stinker, how much that means to me. So thanks.