What it means to be Human.

 One of the ideas that come up from time to time when this conundrum is considered is that “we are spiritual beings having a physical experience”. We tend to nod sagely without really examining the implications of that statement. If we use our mythology as a yardstick it is apparent that the gods of mythology do not change. They come into existence fully developed complete with the powers that they are endowed with. They go through a great number of often unpleasant experiences without apparently being particularly affected either negatively or positively. Quite what happens to them is never quite clear.
 Not so we humans. The very process of birth itself has an enormous effect on us. So does the often painful and unpleasant process of growing up and then entering into the mainstream of life. Once we are in that mainstream, what we call “adulthood”, we are again subjected to a whole variety of experiences.  I doubt is there is anyone who escapes that process without a greater or lesser degree of discomfort and even outright pain. If there is then they have totally escaped mention in the history books. What the history books and our legends and our poetry and our novels and our art are full of is both the joy and wonder as well as the pain and difficulties that we encounter as humans.  We often wonder why we were ever born. The effects of all this on us are huge – often verging on what we regard as the catastrophic. Some of us succumb to these events even to the point of leaving this life or erect very high defences to “protect” us. This, in reality, is just another way of dying. Either way we stop the very process of life itself. We can get very subtle about this. A young woman for whom I have a great deal of time – although she is not likely to see that at this moment in time – is going through an awkward time in her life with a relationship that right now is not in the shape that neither he nor she want. He reached out, clumsily, it is true. Yet he risked a lot and reached out by inviting her to an event.  She refused on the grounds that she would not have time to either change or shower! What she is not seeing is how she vanished into the protection of attempting to present a picture that she thought he would want.  Both are now licking their wounds each blaming the other.
Now here comes the trick that we all need to practice – not learn  -for it is an intrinsic part of our magnificent humanity – how to bounce back! It seems to be part of the human condition and a wonderful one at that, this ability to mess it up, in all the glorious ways that we are capable of doing this, and then BOUNCE BACK. To take a long hard look at what we did, check it against the results we got, look at the possibility that we might be wrong and then BOUNCE BACK.
This ability is surely the greatest evidence of mental health. Life is not a smooth process and it is more than evident that it is not meant to be. One of the dicta that I attempt to live with that Life will not give you something you cannot handle. Implicit in that statement is that it will always give us things to handle and that we can therefore bounce back precisely because we can handle it.
So here is the question. Do you succumb to the stuff that life presents you with? Do you refuse to engage the challenges in your relationships – all of them, work and personal? Do you walk away, retreat, feeling sorry for yourself  or do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again? It is this latter ability to bounce back that makes us truly Human.

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