Sorry, I’m Only Human
by Edmund Lis
I think I’m a defective human being. How’s that for a way to start a conversation.
Let me rephrase that a little. I think I’m either a defective human, an enlightened human, or least of the three possibilities, a normal human. Let me state my case.
There are some basic human traits that got our species to this point in time:
~ Walking upright. OK that’s a given most of the time or at least on the day after I see the chiropractor.
~ Use of tools. I know many people have told me I look like Al from the TV show “Home Improvement” but as my wife will attest, if it’s a power tool, you better keep it away from me.
~ Building fire and cooking food. I almost got kicked out of high school for playing with a makeshift blowtorch made out of a syringe, gasoline and a lighter, and all I can say about cooking (and eating) food is that it’s one of the surest ways to enlightenment I know.
~ Self-awareness. Yes, I look in the mirror and know that it’s me, except on the days I see some old guy that reminds me of my dad.
~ Ability to reason. As my wife is so fond of saying, “Things happen for a reason.” I just can’t always explain it.
~ Use of language to communicate. On this one, I prefer a good stare or roll of the eyes than to actually speaking.
So those were some fun basics, now here come the biggies:
~ Desire to procreate. I ‘m different than most humans on this, as I have never — and I mean never — had a need to create offspring. I don’t know if it was a lack of physical need or my life experiences (nature vs. nurture) that made me not care if my genetic code or bloodline ends with me. I think that answer gives me one notch towards enlightened because it means my ego doesn’t have to see a mini-me to be satisfied. Oh, and just to be clear, sex and procreation are two totally different desires. Enough said.
~ Belief in a higher power. On this one, I make some Atheists I know look like choirboys. I guess because I was raised without any religious teachings or even discussions in our house, I didn’t even start thinking about God until I was a teenager. Since I had never been indoctrinated with any set of beliefs and as a rebellious youth who questioned authority, it just didn’t make sense that the world as I knew it was designed and controlled by some all-knowing but unseen omnipotent person or thing.
By that age I’d heard Mr. Spock on Star Trek say “It’s illogical” so many times, I pretty much couldn’t help but feel the same way about God. I just didn’t understand how for millennium, people had been going to war and killing each other in the name of religion and I still don’t understand how it continues. Even though I don’t personally believe in God, I’m actually envious of the faithful with their unquestioning belief. I sometimes wish I could trust that much.
~ Knowing we are mortal. We’re all going to die, even though to live life, we have to be in a state of denial about this fact. I never thought much about death growing up even though it was all around me — two of my sisters, my grandparents, countless pets that I buried in the back yard, and of course all the deaths in Viet Nam that we saw on the news every night. The specter of “assured mutual annihilation” also hung over our heads during the Cold War, as well as all sorts of natural disasters.
As I get older I find myself thinking about death much more often, not because of any health issues, but just because I know it closer. Since I don’t believe in an afterlife, I don’t fear death; sadly, I sometimes even long for it. What I really fear is dying. I don’t want to suffer and I don’t want my family and friends to suffer either. But the reality is that we will, some of us physically and all of us emotionally. What I fear the most and what causes me the most anguish is the thought of separation from my wife. I don’t know which of us will be left behind, only that most likely one of us will be.
So, as I think about some of the things that make me human I realize it’s just that — the thinking of those thoughts — that separates me and mankind from most of the other life forms on this planet we call home. I’m now even more confused than ever as to what kind of human being I am, so I guess maybe that just makes me normal.
(For archives of Edmund’s columns please visit www.whatsthepoint-edmund.blogspot.com)