An Examined Life

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN – MESA ARIZONA – A friend of a friend said she’d heard that 97% of the world’s population chooses to live an unexamined life. The statistics suggested that humans find it uncomfortable to really think about their lives, their choices, and their situations. I heard it and wondered, “Is that true?”

Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘Know Thyself’ was written over the portal of the antique world. mosaicskeleton.jpgOver the portal of the new world, ‘Be Thyself’ shall be written. I have conversations with the three men in my life. Okay, to call them conversations is rather generous. I try to get these men to talk to me, to share their thoughts and their feelings. With words and deeds, they run quickly in all sorts of directions except to authentically respond to my request for information and insight about their thoughts and feelings.

I really am left with nothing except supposition. I believe the concept that Walter Lippmann (a MAN) expressed, Our greatest instrument for understanding the world—introspection. The best way of knowing the inwardness of our neighbor is to know ourselves.

From my own introspection, I postulate what they think and feel. I make decisions and, yes, judgments, based on my observation and experience. Often, I am told that I am wrong or I misunderstood or that they “never said that!”

I confronted them head on the other night. “I do not know what you think or what you feel because you do not tell me. I make decisions and assesments and they are always wrong. I have decided that it is not me. I am not wrong. You play it safe because you never say what you want then, when whatever is given isn’t right, you express dissatisfaction and disappointment. Nothing will ever be good enough. I will never be good enough.”

This realization was revelatory for me. I choose to lead an examined life. If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion. — Aldous Huxley

How little do we know that which we are! How less what we may be! — Lord Byron

I will continue to seek to know more of me so I may more be. Want to talk about it? Your choice.

(Photo credit: Depicts a skeleton and the words “Know thyself” in Greek. Rome, Terme Museum. Credits: Barbara McManus, 1982)

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