The question increasingly demanding attention to satisfy our natural hunger for a meaningful life is; “Where will we choose to go?”, “What will we do?”. We used to have to face what to run from. Until 1800 or so most of us were poor. This eliminated the question of what to do. The demands of the environment defined what to do. Most of us had to run just to stay still. When these continuously urgent and substantial dangers chased us, they also defined us. When mortal threats began to diminish so did the defining force of the inherent compulsion to act. Since those prior demands also wired us for a predefined purpose, we are now faced with the proposition of needing to define ourselves to be fit for purpose. We still crave purpose because of the way we were defined by the environment but we have the additional task to participate in the defining process. We must now craft and entrepreneurially cultivate a meaningful mission rather than submit to the former demands so heavily imposed on us by the environment.
The newfound freedom to define ourselves is not an easy proposition. Most of us are not wired to take a lead role in defining our lives. We are wired to school like fish. In the past, we did this by necessity to produce the safety of the crowd. As a consequence, most of us are wired to follow – to find out what the social currency of acceptance in the group is and reflect that back so we can belong. Newfound wealth has afforded us the freedom of individual choice, but many of us now drown in this sea of opportunity. We squander it on the altar of fickle fads and exaggerated postures that follow pointless social trends. This behavioral fools gold glitters but offers little of substance and authenticity and we are left hungry, depressed in an existential crisis for want of purpose, for meaning.
Lost in our words, many of us display an empty shell of what was once a more difficult but also more noble, meaningful, and substantive existence. Like the free-range bovine creatures that once roamed grasslands developed a wary eye on predators and traveled on a cyclic journey of necessity staying nourished by the rains that lit up the prairie with grasses – all their behavioral hungers dovetailed to protect the integrity of the community – our native drives were also crafted in the fires of necessity. We had to leave the once nourishing and protected environment of the trees when the climate changed and adapt to new rules of integrity. We searched for and found lands of promise and these stories became intertwined with our myth-maps. These traits, also born of the necessity for purpose have now been corralled into stock pens. Many of us moo and grunt until our life, largely stripped of its former meaning, is expired. Marketers have hijacked these once proud and useful drives, and now exploit them to farm the now denatured people who do not know their own purpose, nor that they hunger for one. This has resulted in what has been called a meaning crisis.
John Vervaeke: Meaning Crisis, Atheism, Religion & the Search for Wisdom
“ Many of us moo and grunt until our life, largely stripped of its former meaning, is expired.” LOL! This is a thoughtful piece but that image is particularly funny. And it leaves me with a question which you don’t explicitly ask, but imply: “How do I live as a free range herd animal?”
Earlier I read a piece that inspired what I’m calling my “theme” of the year: “What is my disruptive spiritual practice?” (See here:
https://torthuilexplores.blogspot.com/2023/03/calling-up-other-worlds.html?m=0). I find that question stimulating but I like the earthiness of “How can I be a free range herd animal?” too.
If I understand you correctly, as far as I can tell, free range herd animals seek to preserve their place among the biological community and this includes paying a necessary tax to put up a hedge against the parasite and predator agents. They look for what will nourish their continuity and protect them from disintegration. Within the limits of what we humans are capable of doing within these natural constraints, you appear to have succeeded. You sought out how to be valuable nourisher-protector and how to pass those values on so that they have continuity beyond the time horizon of your life. It is demonstrated through your relationships including your children. Your blog, with stories of introspection growth and dedication to family are a testament to this.
I am pretty sure you are not content to follow the empty promise of the parasitic and predatory human storytellers who aim to capture and domesticate the unwary traveler into an abstract pen, to motivate and milk them for their own purposes. You don’t let marketers tell you or your children their stories. Your visual horizon appears to me to be deeper than that and your behavioral expressions bear witness to it.
I could be wrong but I think you have some meaningful direction going on with whatever story lens yuo’ve landed on to render the world.
P.S. I have tried several times to log in to be able to comment on your blog but google won;t let me for some reason at the moment.
Thank you for again taking a thought I’ve shared and extending it (and adding some very nice compliments).
“I am pretty sure you are not content to follow the empty promise of the parasitic and predatory human storytellers who aim to capture and domesticate the unwary traveler into an abstract pen, to motivate and milk them for their own purposes. You don’t let marketers tell you or your children their stories.”
—That’s my goal yes. At least, I want my children to know there is an alternative to the stories that are marketed to them. And it’s not been super hard yet, because they are very curious about anything we introduce them to and very willing to engage. I’ve just avoided as much empty addictive stuff as I can, or limited their contact with it.
Even is I wasn’t thinking deeply about these questions, I think I would do much the same, but the intellectual engagement means I stick to my convictions with more confidence.
Re: blogger, I can’t comment using my phone at all. Never figured out why. I can comment when I’m on my laptop. It’s weird.