only human“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”

-Alfred Adler

We’re only human –  It’s not an uncommon phrase, often used to justify blunders or mistakes or failings. But, from a technical perspective, are you only human? How do you know that? What does it mean to be ‘only’ human? Are you the only human? The lonely human? What if you are a composite of human and something else? You are, ‘human +’ and, equally, ‘human -‘. You are human, more or less, sometimes more, sometimes less. You are not ‘only’ human, you are, simply, human. What does it mean to be ‘human?’ Some defintions suggest human means ‘of the earth’ not unlike the word ‘humus.’ Human is also referred to as homo, as in sapien. Home sapien is just one phase of the species unfoldment. Home habilus, homo erectus, preceded homo sapien. Modern humans have bypassed homo sapien to homo cogito (thinking species) and now considered homo faber, the fabricating species. We fabricate all kinds of things, both physical and mental. No other species fabricates ‘stuff’ like humans. We are ‘only’ human is a gross understatement, when compared to all other species who fabricate near nothing, have little creative or innovative drives and are quite content with what, where and who they are. Not so with homo faber. Fabrication is the name of the game, though not the end game; there is yet more unfolding from within outwards occurring, every day, every century, every age, every epoch, every eon. Unknown possibilities exist, if even not now seen. Who is to say we are at our finish point when the hints and glimmers of home ecos are evident?

The notion that we, as a species, blunder and mistake and fail is half the picture; these aspects only do not a whole human make. Correction, learning and success is equally active in the species. Just as breathing is a process of inflation and deflation, so too is living in the world a process of scientific trial and error, mistake and correction, coming to understand how the world works, and how we, both as an individual and a collection of individuals, small and large, work, and play, together. Blunder, mistake and failure is only relevant in the context of specific targets or goals. How much trial and error, mistake and correction, learning, goes into an archer able to shoot an arrow into the center of the target, almost every time? Is the archer ‘only’ human?’

There are better ways to acknowledge our current shortcomings, in the context of a specific target. If ‘perfection’ is the target, what are the parameters, the criteria, that allows one to conclude perfection has been attained, or not? If perfection is some idyllic fantasy conjured up by some authority figure, with unrealistic criteria, and imposed upon you, no amount of striving will yield perfection, for perfection is not attained by imposition. It has been said that ‘nothing is perfect, nothing is forever, and nothing is sacred.’ If that is so, and perfection is your target, you want nothing. The phrase ‘I’m only human’ can become ‘I’m not only what you see right now.’ If you were only what is seen right now, you would never have developed from a child into an adult. Would you, as an adult, instead of ‘I’m only human,’ say ‘I’m only a child’? No, because as an adult you are no longer a child. As a child, you were not only what was seen. As an adult, you are not only what is seen. As a human, you are not only what is or has been seen.

In so many ways, we are that which is not seen. We don’t see the air we, or others, breathe into our lungs, nor the circulating blood in veins and arteries, nor the complex neurotransmitters in the brain. Just as we don’t see the blossoming flowers in the seed, it is, nevertheless, there; unfolding, blossoming, is the name of the game. And, so it is with the human species and with each individual human being. You are not ‘only human.’ You contain multitudes of possibilities and potentials, as do we all.

We only see what we want to see; we only hear what we want to hear. Our belief system is just like a mirror that only shows us what we believe.

-Don Miguel Ruiz


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