On Experiences & Such…

Posted: May 27, 2010 in Philosophical musings
Tags: , , ,

 I was ruminating with a cup of Joe in hand and couldn’t help existential questions flooding my mind as they usually do when I have nothing else to think about but have a hundred things on hand to do. I figured why fight thoughts when they come knocking on my head. The one that came rendering me baffled was about  ‘experiences and how it molds people into the character that they are’. The old adage is ‘experience makes man wiser’ and that led me to willingly snowball the question answer-session and war of words going in my head.

If experience makes man wiser aren’t all elderly people and octo/septuagenarians the wisest of the lot with halos around their head? Couldn’t they be classified as humans who are highly evolved since they have so many experiences in life- that they must be brimming with answers? Although some very experienced people are as retrogressive in their thinking, reactions and behavior akin to a child learning to walk for the first time and stand out counter-intuitive to that theory but then we know every rule has exceptions.

A child falls, gets up and walks again and again until it perfects the art of walking. Boys slam themselves against the walls until they learn eventually that it does hurt. 

That was until I read this saying by Friedrich Nietzsche

 “Character is determined more by lack of certain experiences than by those one has had.”

 Now this one threw me in a loop but after I got down to the business of rationalizing it I realized he sure has a point. Sometimes our reactions without experience are the purest and momentous, without any prior Pavlovian concepts buried in our head that surface to elicit a response as ordained.

Although I must confess I prefer the saying by some anonymous person:

Experience is what you got by not having it when you need it. 

Having been through several interesting experiences in the real world that could potentially be classified basing on their level of impact on my psyche right from my childhood I find this whole subject interesting. Strangely, I am at peace with every one of them be it good or bad and has not made me bitter about anything. On the contrary I have found that experiences  have heightened my sensitivity to  issues and an understanding of its dissections. So I sit back watching when a flurry of activity unfurls in front of me. The outcome sometimes turning tragic or sometimes escalating or sometimes … just plain amusing, keeping me enthralled in the journey of life.

Experiences are an amalgamation of disparate situations connected in a chain-link of memories bookmarked for future references. A feeling of ‘been there, done that’ that gives a degree of comfort and a sixth sense that propels one forward while making decisions or observing life, people, incidents, also providing an insight into another person’s plight and empathizing for good measure. A person’s character comes through not with ease but through experiences that strengthen the soul and clears the vision to lead us in the direction of achievements. A quiet strength that gets added on like a layer over a person, a RAM card that can be dug into for future references, as and when needed. 

Then there is this aspect about how we go on testing our limits and pushing the envelope as much as possible. May be most of us are not above absolvation to this phenomenon with regard to man and his achievements. An innate desire to see how tensile can elastic get before it snaps or how long can we run before we drop dead, or how high can we climb before the oxygen gets so rarefied that we are left out of breath. A constant need to prove our worth in the world which leads me to the question of why the need to display our innate capacities and achievements always?  The need to showcase and then feel duly acknowledged of our presence in the real world is quite intriguing to me. Of course virtual world is a whole different story and I am not venturing to dissect it since it is a vast unknown, that which I know very little about.

When one is contented with oneself and has already carved a niche in the world, in mankind, with respect to career, achievements, place in society the ever saturating need one has, to fulfill another dream, another wish, another mountain to climb, another bling-bling to add to our mantelpiece – egging one on, finally culminating in some kind of rat race with one self more than with the rest of the world is another interesting observation oftentimes leading me to conclude that we humans are a funny lot indeed!

But of course, whatever ticks the clock of life for each one of us.

I would think that self-competition is good as it brings the better, the faster, and the stronger in us and make a better self of us, constantly seeking a measuring stick and berating oneself for falling short of one’s own capacities. On second thoughts it could be a self-realization that there might be untapped hidden potentials that could be drilled into, to assure oneself that nothing need go wasted in this life with regard to our abilities and who best to realize it than ourselves.

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