I thought I would try again. I set out to write notes for a possible group that identifies topics of human condition. I want to return to normal topics and themes which influence questions which are common to those who seek meaning and purpose for their life. I want to provide some basic material that I never had access to when I began my pursuit to figure out myself and my life. Odd, huh? Have you stopped to think about what are the prerequisites that manifest together and make human beings similar, yet uniquely different? Have you thought about something and wondered–Does anyone else ask this question? Does anyone else worry about this or is it just me? Have you ever thought you just “missed the memo” and now who do I ask? Or worse yet dismiss the question with — “never-mind ‘cuz it doesn’t matter anyway”? Let me tell you… it does matter. We can normalize our situations to some extent with this information. What happens next does not need to be as intense as when we do not have a simple understanding of what is normal.
I have attempted to do this before, through different perspectives. Each time I have been ignited by excitement and enlightened by the idea that I am not alone because these are universal areas of concern. Just by identifying these areas and whittling the identified topics which have been studied by scholars, provided me with a sense of connectedness. They did the work and I am able to reap the benefits of profound potential if I allow myself to use what was discovered. I am not alone. Life is the privilege of living. Human conditions are gifts that say I belong. When I accept that I belong, everywhere I’ve been and anywhere I’m going is a trajectory of privilege–since I am alive and influenced by such gifts.
I thought about making a list of questions, but then I thought…that’s silly. Readers, like me, can come up with their own questions. Instead, I will share with you the topics that are universal. I think the list is pretty self-explanatory, but I will add a minor description for easier understanding. Remember, this list of universal human conditions creates a structure for discussion. I encourage you to pay attention to the lens you use when reading these conditions because your lens will focus your understanding of what these conditions mean to you. I also encourage you to consider that your lens is not the only lens and that other people may have different perceptions of these same conditions.
When I shared my idea with a friend, who is also a scholar, he needed to research the authorship of the list. This first took him to question the list. Ultimately his research provided that this list is universal and it can help ignite interest and deeper discussion.
To continue: This list comes from a philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. These are universal human conditions. They can be questioned and pondered according to how you see circumstances, happenstance or core beliefs.
#1 “Existence precedes essence.”
Think about how meaning takes form: Meaning is created or Meaning is inherent therefore it is sought after.
#2 “The Absurd”
This idea is based on the fact that people and things are not good or bad. They just are. Life is unfair. Tragedy happens and we are forced to face both meaning and meaninglessness.
#3 “Facts & Transcendence”
People limit themselves or circumstances because they can’t change the facts. Facts are assigned value, yet the facts do not define them
This idea is about creating and reinventing ourselves. This condition takes into account the history of our lives, along with our value system and our attitudes towards freedom and responsibility.
#5 “The Other” & “The Look”
This is the experience of being aware of other people experiencing your world also. You know when a child, or a parent, or friend gives you “the look” which may signify a completely different response to what you are experiencing.
This is tension, anxiety, worry or anguish. This feeling surfaces as people become more aware of their freedoms and conscientious to its responsibility.
This condition normally happens when some aspect of a person’s identity crumbles. There is no escape from this condition whenever some part of our identity is determined by something temporal.
This condition is how a life is experienced with all its qualities. Some occurrences are best depicted with descriptions rather than “just the facts” in order to include the subjectivity elements of the experience. For example: Home is more than a location. What is it like for you to be home?
So far what has landed in my lap without much effort is–what is universal doesn’t get noticed until something happens, namely a crisis, and then we fly into a mode of unpreparedness.
We fly off the handle.
We fly out the door.
We fly far and wide.
We label this anxiety and want to get rid of it.
My hope is that by reading through this list, which includes some big and over-reaching concepts, you will be more open and accountable to think more deeply about human conditions as gifts and become willing to bring them into discussions. It is important to ponder deeper concerns. What is meaningful or meaningless in your life?
“One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.” Viktor Frankl