If I were asked to state categorically my goal/purpose/ideal in life, I would say without hesitation: ‘It is to be the best possible human being, and to live out this ideal in everyday life.’
What does this audacious-sounding goal mean? It sounds even more audacious in detail. It means the highest possible development of all the parts that constitute the human being, namely, the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, moral, aesthetic and spiritual. Moreover, it means the integration of all these separate parts into an indivisible whole.
So much for unabashed hubris!
This personal ideal has been with me for as long as I can remember, long before I could articulate it. Why? A dedicated mountaineer was once asked why he was determined to climb Mount Everest. He replied, ‘Because it’s there.’ I cannot think of a reason for my ideal, except to say, with ridiculous circularity, ‘I have it because I have it.’
To be the ‘best possible human being’ seems, once again to emphasize the ridiculousness, like an impossible order, given the unbridgeable gap between the goal and the reality. The reality, as we are all only too painfully aware of, is the fundamental weakness of a human nature still driven by the instinctual demands of our animal nature. The reality also includes the flaws of character, personality and temperament (whether we want to blame them on genes or upbringing or both) that definitely stand in the way of progress towards the goal.
So why have an ideal that is so remote from reality? That is precisely what an ideal means to me—something so high up there that even the smallest effort towards it already constitutes improvement, something so glorious that even failure has a positive effect, sharpening the desire to succeed.
A continuing flow of little, readable pieces that will constitute what I feel is an important 'legacy of values' to leave behind. Read more about Vignettes...