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The social animal


“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” Aristotle

One of the first lessons I learned as a philosophy student it was about the human condition and the innately characteristic of humans to exist around each other. In other words, people need other people to co-exist, in order to be fulfilled and have a sense of cohesion or purpose.

Back then I had no idea what this means. It was a completely new concept and I was not even close or had the capacity to comprehend, by far, how an individual could live outside of society.

Anyway, I don’t have the arrogance to think that I know now but since I experience “unprecedented times” – as they say in all the serious articles – I have enough time to reflect upon this theory.

The days are passing slowly and the “social isolation” becomes a brutal reality. I realise that humans are very creative at coming together. If you are anything like me (and you cannot stay away from news and social media) you probably saw all those videos where (Italians) start singing in their balconies and create beautiful, empowering social gatherings in unique ways, or simply, people are risking their lives (and some others more) by overruling the obvious (imposed) new ways of interacting by the authorities – only to be around each other. The simple fact of not meeting a friend is incomprehensible at this point for many of us, yet, some cannot even conceive the idea of staying far from the others, even tough as a temporary measure. Not one single type/tool of new technology can replace the human interaction.

I used to think about myself as a rather antisocial, introvert personality (I still do), yet, these rules are weighing heavy on my mental state (and physical for that matter) since only the idea that I am not allowed to go to a movie, a concert or any other type of collective gathering with humans that you feel connected through a common nominator, is simply not conceivable and it gives me some terrible anxiety.

We all understand this is temporary (or is it?), we try to stay positive and get the best out of a situation that hit us so fast and so hard that we choose to ignore. Yet, instead of ignoring, the best is to acknowledge and try to come to terms with the fact that staying far one from the other it is ultimately something that is bringing us together.

Rant over.

Namaste. Stay safe.

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Pexels.com
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I want my Innsæi back

 

Seeing this documentary, I started to wonder where my “sea within” has gone. And I came up with a not so different narrative.

As a little girl I thought that the world is limited to the universe that was around me: the grey communist building I was living surrounded by even more morose buildings in my neighbourhood, the little-improvised garden in the back guarded fiercely by two old ladies, the empty market a few minutes walk from me, that was for some reason open every day even though you couldn’t literally buy any food, the two cemented long stairs up the hill next to my building, promising to take you somewhere in a different and magical new dimension – stairs that I was not brave enough to climb out of fear for what I remember to be a long time during my childhood. (Later on, I discovered that those stairs are, indeed, the way to a new and different reality).

In my defense, back then, I did not have any TV, internet or a smart phone to open so many and endless possibilities as we have today. Yet, we had books and imagination. And intuition.

“Innsæi” – translates literally from ancient Icelandic as intuition. However, I’ve read that in Iceland, it has multiple meanings. It can also mean “the sea within” – the borderless nature of our inner world, a constantly moving world of vision, feelings and imagination beyond words. It can mean “to see within” which means to know yourself and to know yourself well enough to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes. And it can mean “to see from the inside out” which is to have a strong inner compass to navigate your way in our ever-changing world.

At the moment, it seems that I am taking part along with humanity in a sort of collective soul sickness. A global epidemic of existential distress. Distraction, entertainment we call it. Noise. The constant noise in today’s world turns off the contact with oneself. The noise of the external world is muting the sound of our internal world, therefore, the intuition pays the price for it.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned about the world (yet, not enough), travel some – my limited universe expanded to a great extent (yet, not enough), I’ve seen markets that I could never dream about (yet, not enough), I am not afraid to climb stairs: real or fictive (yet, none displaying any magical universe). Despite all that, I seem to have lost my precious innsæi. And I want it back.

Namaste.