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What do we mean by ‘here’?

Is it a place, a location, a position? Something that can be pinpointed on Google Earth? Latitude X, longitude Y. Corner of A and B.

Is it the space you occupy? Your height, depth and breadth? Your mass, your volume?

Where are you when you announce “I’m here”? Perhaps you are standing at a rendezvous point. Or in a classroom. Or arriving at a meeting. Maybe you’re reassuring a worried child or responding to a concerned other.

And how often is your ‘here’ the same as someone else’s? “I’m here but where the hell are you?” Isn’t it possible to be in the same place and yet miles apart? What does ‘here’ mean then? Something intensely personal. Something profoundly existential. Something utterly defining.

You are present, somewhere else.

I’m not talking about daydreaming or ‘spacing off’ or some imaginary flight of fancy. You are in a radically different place to the people around you. You are walking in a distinctly separate universe. And being from another place possibly makes you feel alien. You don’t speak the language. You don’t possess the proper currency. The guide book you’re using couldn’t be more off the mark. You’re out of step, out of touch and out of time. And you ask yourself – “How did I get here?”

The answer is not as complex or damning as you might think. And it probably wouldn’t be inappropriate to list off the various contributing factors of nature and nurture, environment and temperament. But it’s simpler than all of that. How did you end up here, in this particular place, at this particular time, in this particular state? (And by ‘state’, I mean emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and universally, not geographically!) How? I will tell you.

By doing the best you can.

We live in a hypercritical, hyper-analytical world where every misstep is scrutinised and anything less than supernova success is considered failure. Bearing that in mind you may not believe you have done the best you can, you may feel that you have somewhat underachieved or sold yourself short somehow. Rubbish. You’ve done the best you could. Here’s a newsflash – nobody is perfect. I know, it’s a cliche but there you go. It happens to be true. No one is on top of their game for every second of every day. No one. You show me that person and I’ll show you somebody who is pathological, deranged, unhinged and totally disconnected. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a manifesto of mediocrity, we can all excel but those mediocre moments are totally normal. So say it.

“I have done the best I can.”

Nobody deliberately sets out not to arrive at their destination of choice. Most of us simply go after the things that make us feel good. We seek the approval, appreciation and love of the people most important to us. We develop over time a belief in the type of person we are and we act accordingly. Life throws its hilarious bag of tricks in our way to render us senseless and ineffective but it doesn’t affect our core action. We bump and stumble and scramble our way towards happiness.

That’s right. It’s not rocket science or thermonuclear physics or even macro economics. It is action. We act in the pursuit of the things we believe will make us happy. To use the hideous phrase that peppers modern workspeak, we have desired outcomes. Phrases like that seek to sanitise and homogenise the trench warfare that is modern survival. And I deliberately use the word survival, not ‘living’. Because I do not believe that the headlong rush to be a drop of lubricant in the cogs of globalisation qualifies as life. Desired outcomes! Give me a break. Here’s my desired outcome: a life worth living. Vital. Fulfilled. Breathing. Giving. Loving.

So forgive yourself for being here. You haven’t committed any crimes. You’ve simply done the best you can. The only question left to ask is:

Can you do better?

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12 thoughts on “How did I get here?

  1. Obviously I am psychic. Earlier today i was musing about the ridiculous amount of pressure ‘to be better than the best’, that I was implicitly putting myself under as I approached my workplace to begin work.

    I mused how surely, in so-called ‘primitive’ societies, people might not have put themselves under any pressure to be ‘the best’ at what they did.

    Then again… our compulsion to compete must have come from somewhere right?

    I guess it makes sense that people right down through the ages may well have compared their efforts and abilities with others. The everpresent and universal existence of human ego and all that. But was the human ego as widely massaged and celebrated as it is today?

    Who knows.. perhaps if the local witch doctor inadvertently allowed a patient to die, another medicine man from a neighbouring tribe would come in and apply for the job…???! Ooh pressure pressure!

    I’m Imagining another possible conversation…

    “how does my cave painting look?”
    “well i’n not going to beat around the bush there mate. your bear looks like a blob, and your spear is bent, face it ya gay nancyboy artist schmartist, you’re never going to be a big name in the biz”

    etc…?

    Thanks for the provoking thoughts D. Here where I am feels a little more enjoyable for this moment!

  2. Ah here. I’m not finished yet. I want to post the best comment of all. I want my comment on your post to be better than any other comment poster’s. Such pressure! I’m sorry I just can’t help it, it’s my conditioning.

    One idea I find helpful is the notion that we all have a unique (dare I say it? Oh yes indeed I do and with contemptuous double-edged relish) X-Factor (‘role’ / ‘ability’ / ‘gift’ / ‘PLACE’!?) that nobody else can emulate, compete with, threaten or… Arrive at!

    …In which case we don’t have to try at all, except to be true to who we are in all our flawed-perfection, doing what we are best at without having to try too hard. Which fits just nicely for me, with what I think you are saying. Can I do better than that? No. Pass me a beer.

  3. And maybe the only question left is not ‘can I do better?’, but ‘can I go some place else such as… Mars, where the atmosphere is decidedly less corporate, the price of bread is half and if someone else’s patented genetically modified crop seeds accidentally blow into your field, they don’t instantly have ownership rights over your land, as is currently the case in America?

  4. This is all very thought provoking. I think competition is essential for the survival of the fittest. That said though, it is important to keep an eye on the bigger picture and realise that not everything should be competitive. One of my friends always says ” I am ok exactly as I am right now” which is a good sentiment for day-to-day survival, inne calm and feeling content and at ease with the world. I do believe though, that striving for goals that push us beyond our current limitations is an important aspect of a life of satisfaction.

    I look forward to more of these intelligent and interesting blogs.
    Grant.

  5. My question is: what is the reason behind this definitely once ending journey?? Dara, you are stirring my thoughts after me trying to keep them cool :-).

  6. The thing is Dara that to be “here” and now and not “here” and there may be for some a place of self-awareness and a comfort too. Leave the angst behind; the pain of “there” cannot be reached again if you make that choice. Breathe in the “here”! helps you sleep too.

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