As originally published on Hedge School with audio.
Hello Hedge School!
Lara Foster here again with the continuation of our How to be Human Series. Last time we discussed why I’m here at Hedge School, what I intend to offer, and the inquiries we’ll be exploring together. For that intro head on over to Part I. If you’re all caught up and ready to ride, let’s rock and roll into Part II together.
Last week, our dear Steve Brophy took a spin with the question we’ll be dancing with today: What is the best integration of humanness?. He walked us smoothly through the areas of our humpty dumpty fractures, our relationship to suffering and the possibilities for our way through.
As I listened to the intonations of Steve’s words, the rhythm of his voice gently soothed constant nags knocking at the center of my skull. I relaxed into his breathing, wondering with him, Why are we fractured? My senses cleared. And then, if we are, then why not lean a bit more into our areas of Wholeness?
As we begin to lean into wholeness let’s rewind back to our simplest form of this inquiry: How to be Human. Perhaps, our first landing pad might be on the word human. What is a human?
Humans (Homo sapiens) are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, large and complex brains enabling the development of advanced tools, culture and language. Humans are highly social beings and tend to live in complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families and kinship networks to political states. Social interactions between humans have established a wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which bolster human society. Curiosity and the human desire to understand and influence the environment and to explain and manipulate phenomena have motivated humanity’s development of science, philosophy, mythology, religion, and other fields of knowledge.
So, if you fit into the categories above you’re human!
Now that we’ve got that covered moving on further to, What is the best integration of humanness?
I’d like to dance with this one a little bit, for my sense is it needs a little unravelling.
What exactly are we integrating? Is it what we’ve learned throughout our lives? Is it right from wrong? Best to better? Peace? Intentionality? Feminine and Masculine? Yin and Yang? Science and Religion?
When I think of the word “best”… what comes to mind is joy.
Joy defined as a noun: A feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Similar words: delight, jubilation, triumph, exhilaration, glee, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstacy…
Some opposite words to joy: misery, despair, trial, tribulation
I found, when researching the word Joy that it was used twice as much in the 1800’s as it is in 2021. What could be the reason for this?
Joy as a verb seems to be individually defined. What brings me joy may not be what brings you joy. So, amidst all of these classifications of being human, and curiosity about the best integration of humanness it would seem that there’s no real road map here.
And if there’s no real roadmap to joy, what are we left with? Ourselves, as humans, discovering together. Maybe the joy is in learning ourselves, who we are, where we come from, what moves us, what makes us come alive, who we love, what we stand for and why.
Perhaps the unknown roadmap is the discovery. Being willing to learn, grow and discern. Leaning into where we are fractured, leaning into where we are whole. Sharing our gifts and misgivings, virtuously. Having friends, loved ones and mentors who will hold you through this process, as you hold them through theirs has been one of the absolute treasures I’ve uncovered these last several years.
Best. Integration. Of. Humanness. Is for you to uncover for yourself.
And, how does one begin to uncover?
It would seem that we have the perfect opportunity right now to step off the wheel of optimization, of constant progress and productivity to find out.
The zen artist in me wants to tell you to sit down, to listen, to be quiet, to slow down, to meditate, to breathe, to go and do something you enjoy! Get some Active Recovery INTO your life.
A couple weeks ago I was at a friend’s house celebrating a birthday. My dear friend, let’s call her Margaret, said to me, “I just want to go somewhere where no one else is. Where it’s quiet…” And then she went on to describe all of her favorite outdoor activities and places she likes to go. “But they’re so full now. There’s just always people,” she continued.
Do we all just need our own plots of land? For quiet, peace and serenity? A single pointed, selfish mind, may think so. In fact, I used to think so.
I leaned into Margaret and softly said, “It’s the final frontier,” turning my hand toward the center of my chest tapping lightly on my own heart, “cultivating inner space.” Margaret looked at me, laughed and I laughed with her. Then she took a sip of wine and we both turned back toward the group dinner conversation.
I’ve thought about this interaction often since that night. What did I even mean? If Margaret had asked me how to cultivate inner space what would I have said to her?
Perhaps I’d have said this, We want quiet so we can remember where we are whole. The quiet isn’t always the wholeness. The quiet can be found anywhere when we learn how to cultivate it within. And then, no matter the fracture uncovered, our wholeness that sweet essence of being, becoming and belonging is always and only a step away.
I suppose an answer like this truly needs to come from someone who has learned this in it’s entirety, but that’s not me. I’m living into this answer and this question. The buds of curiosity that continue to move through give me inklings that at times feel like I am led into a better understanding of our initial question of What is the best integration of humanness? Breeding my own experiences of wholeness in their vast array of manifestation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! How would you answer this question to someone about how to cultivate inner space? And, how could it be answered in a way that encouraged them to actually take note?
Our inquiry into How to be Human continues. I’ll see you all next time Hedge Schoolers! Until then, be the best human you can be.
Listen or watch to integrate these inquiries: Unfold – Porter Robinson (with flashing lights)