Like the proverbial fish that can’t realize it is swimming in water, we tend to overlook the matrix of life we are in.
At best, the same way we often think of ourselves as minds separate from (but within) bodies, we also think of ourselves as selves separate from (and only just within) surroundings.
For one, this surfaces in “environmental” issues.
The “I” in “The Environment”
“The environment” is often talked about as if it were an issue for some “green” freaks only.
In fact, what we are talking of is not even, truly, an environment in the sense of something that surrounds an individual, however.
Rather, it runs right through us and, to considerable extent, it is us.
Really, where would you want to draw the lines?
With every breath we take, every drop we drink, and every morsel we eat, we take in a part of our environment.
Whether we freeze, are hot, or feel comfortable, whether that is because of the weather or because of air conditioning or clothing, it is part and parcel of our relation with our environment.
Even “our” bodies are oftentimes really “environment”, given the extent to which we are not just ourselves but bacteria and other critters on the skin, the microbiota of the gut, and so much more.
Our thinking, too, is very much shaped by our(selves with our) environment.
Elements of danger or disorganization easily make us edgy, whereas green views (even when they are just posters on the wall, better still when we walk through them) calm us and make us more creative and relaxed, and even get us to heal faster.
Physically as well as psychologically, there are intimate connections.
The “I” in the We
There is yet another “environment” we tend to overlook (and see as separate from the natural-biological): society and culture (which include politics, economics, and technology).
Who we are, what we take to be normal, how a life should unfold according to our assumptions, is largely not something we have actually thought about and decided for ourselves.
It is what we have, explicitly but more often implicitly, soaked up as individuals who have grown up in and with our families and peers and general social context.
Here, we have come to speak a lot about “connections” when it comes to connected technology and social networks.
As much as diets and fitness and environmental issues may be discussed on those social networks, alongside LOLcatz and gossip and general self-presentation, these are but additional examples of the gap we build up (and get built) between ourselves and the environments we are (also) parts of.
Fitness training just serves for weight control when it should really be about our functioning and usefulness in the world.
Diets take the luxury of being in a position where we can decide what we want to eat (rather than having to be happy we have anything to eat) and push it to the extreme rather than serve as joyful, flavorful and healthful celebrations of life.
Environmental issues get discussed as issues of an “other” outside of us, in our control in a way they aren’t, supposedly not influencing our lives the way they truly are.
Doing, and Doing Better – The Ultimate Gap?
The biggest gap that separates us from truly being at home in this world lies, perhaps, in the missing realization of the way(s) we can and must be changing things in order to live better.
Again, a lot of talk about it can be found; lots of advice are being given and purport to be about just that.
Life hacking, self-development, personal growth. There is a plethora of talk – but too much of it is not quite real, and even more misses that we are not talking about something that is just in talk and attitude and world view.
The secret to a better life is not The Secret…
The realization of our connections, and their shaping for better lives, has to be in the reality of how we live, the nitty-gritty daily routines and habits and ways of living.
What you eat, how you learn and grow bodily-mentally, and how you can keep yourself from getting misled into more mindfucks that just want to sell you on certain products and ideologies, that’s where we need to change things for better.
As connected beings, we need to do so in ways that fit in with what makes for a good life, as a part of life in this world – and not just imagining that all the connections that mattered were those provided by the internet…