On Being Human
As the idea, the reality of creation(1) implies an understanding of what is meant by “God,” so, too, it indicates a way of comprehending what is meant by “human.”
Human life (and, here, by “life,” I mean life in this world), by virtue of being created, that is, before which not being, inherently is (must be) finite, limited.
We are limited temporally. Each of our lives has a beginning at birth and an end at death. Moreover, each of us has a past, a present, and, until death, a future. Thus, none of us, in a single moment in time can know the totality of our lives.(2)
We are limited spatially. Each of us is confined to the particular and individual space of our human body and that part of the world in which we, as the olden prayer says, “live and move and have our being.” Each of us always is somewhere and none of us ever is everywhere.
We are limited by our dependence on other people and things to make our lives habitable, livable.
We are limited by our responsibilities, for, as we are dependent on other people and things, so, they, too, are dependent on us. Thus, we are accountable to others and answerable to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Doubtless, from time to time, we humans experience frustration with these innate limitations of our mortal existence.
As I reflect on these manifestations of my finitude, in reverse order…
I have wrestled with the weight of the expectations of others that I considered unwarranted (being more, I believe, than should have been asked of me) or greater than I was capable of fulfilling.
I have wrestled with my dependency (that, as human, I cannot avoid having) on others, especially when my reliance on others challenged (mocked!) my sense of being able, proverbially, to stand on my own two (autonomous) feet.
I have wrestled with the repeatable experience of being caught, as the poet saith, “in the fell clutch of circumstance” of the trials and tribulations attendant to a particular place or space.
I have wrestled with my awareness of my always coming death and, in that consciousness, knowing that, as long as I live, I live, euphemistically, “on the dash,” representing that period between the years of my birth and death.(3) Oft I have wished to be immortal; to live forever.
However, it occurs to me that it is precisely the finitude of human existence that is the essential condition for openness to God, the Creator of our humanness, thus, the Creator of our finitude itself, and, thus, the (only) one in whom we can find our ultimate fulfillment.
(1) My Theological Opinion…On Creation, February 20, 2019
(2) Though we can recall our pasts, our memories always are flawed. We don’t, can’t remember everything. Though we are present in the instant moments, we don’t, can’t perceive all that is around us or within us. And though we can hope for the future, the future never is present or past. Again, none of us, at any single moment, can grasp all of our being and living.
(3) 1952 – ?