Thriving, Surviving, And The Art Of Being Human.
“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” ~ Virginia Woolf
So, here we are: struggling recipients and depleted givers, cold shells and overflowing fields, the lonely and surrounded dwellers of this time and place, both blessed and victimized by a thing called being human.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it — this human condition, this state of simultaneous joy and despair, of tossing and turning between growth and decay.
Either way, whether or not we see it as such, this is the world. Our world. The world we make. The world we keep. The world in which we have two tasks of equal importance to fulfill with our time in this human embodiment: one is to thrive, and the other, to survive.
We grip too much of one and the other slips to nothing; we turn the tables as we need and find the former falls away. Because living here and now and as we are — it’s an art. It’s important. It’s the only experience we will ever have under these exact circumstances, under this human condition, and it’s our only chance to fulfill the tasks at hand.
But in our efforts to fulfill these tasks, it’s the conditions themselves that get in the way. Our humanness subjects us to the inevitable, and only as subjects of the inevitable are we given the task: in a word, overcoming.
Overcoming — the simplified purpose of our layered existence — is whatever we decide it must be, however and whenever we realize it must be done. It’s the voice that can no longer stay silent, the hand that forcefully distances the offender, the ties that must become severed, the pain that breaks the edge.
They are the tools with which we master the art and fulfill the tasks, though we never master it in the sense of perfect balance, for this goes hand in hand with our condition: sometimes we gravitate towards extremes, and sometimes those tendencies amount to habits, and sometimes those habits leave us with one half of the task accomplished while the other gets lost in the dust of a semi-success.
Sometimes our attention steals at the task of thriving and thriving alone, internalizing joy and externalizing its mirror. We lock ourselves out of our own depths without a care; the world abroad is enticing and bright. We take it. We devour it. We grab at the ease of its serendipitous waves and we move along a path so clear, it can’t be wrong… until, in the earth-shattering possibility of a moment, it is.
Until the fog drops a wall complete with a harsh beating, and we must survive it.
And so we have no choice but to take it and proceed, interpreting what lies before and all around us as things of danger: things to be avoided, things to fight, things to keep out of our inner world. This is how we survive. This is when we drop the veil to all things — both the good and the bad, because how are we to know the difference before they take a stab? — and so we adjust to the smallness of the space. We lock ourselves in to hide ourselves away.
It’s in this place — locked in after having been locked out — that we recognize our need to fulfill the tasks, both individually and synchronized in all their tender difficulties. And as we glide between stages of healthful reemerging, it’s here that we learn the art of things. It’s here that we reconcile and overcome.
We unlock and unlearn and undo what we’ve hidden and harbored and held. We release and reignite. We fill the bullet holes of change and make space to outgrow their shallow pockets. We come and go as we please, making a home we never have to leave.
We drift between two worlds until we sculpt them into one. And in that unifying rite, we dream the dreams of the outside as we make gentle plans to chase them. We chase them not because we can, but because we must.
Because with this one chance, under these exact circumstances, under this condition, we have only this humanness to bring into balance. We have only this task of overcoming, creating and fueling the world in which we can both thrive and survive despite our initially haphazard lusting for the light.
And it’s here in this world — where we’re neither locked in nor locked out — that we master this art of being human; this coming and going of bliss and distress; this locking in and locking out of a home that never falls so far that it’s lost.
But even if it did, we would find it. We would survive and learn and reconcile and overcome, and eventually we would find home again — all the while reinforcing this dual-layered task in which we strike the heart of what it means to be human.
To be the artist.
To be the art.
Sara Rodriguez is a passionate writer and thinker (and probably some other things) who feels an innate calling for putting people face-to-face with their souls. Her work has been published on Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog, Enlightenment is Sexy, and The Footnotes. She’s currently writing her first book of many more to come.For new content and regular updates, you can follow Sara on her personal site, her Facebook page, and her Instagram.