Reflection 341: Pay No Attention to All Those Earlier Posts (5 Years Worth)

September 24, 2014

For five years I used this blog as a scratch pad to get my thoughts on consciousness in shape to put into a book. Then a second book. In that limited sense, it worked as I intended it to, but not as a blog. So now I’m making a new start with all that I’ve learned crammed into my head, which will slowly leak out in a series of much shorter and more pointed posts.

Consciousness–the linking of perception to action through the medium of personal judgment–is the story I now want to tell. And how those actions fare in the outer reaches of Nature, Culture, Community, and Family–our collaborators in creating the mental space in which we conduct ourselves as wayfarers.

All animals are wayfarers, back to the original one-celled ones that first sprang from the primal ooze. We are wayfarers in being go-getters of the food we need, the oxygen, the water, the partners, groups, and everything else we need to survive in our environmental niches. And then need to get rid of when we turn all that good stuff into waste. Life commits us to one long engagement with the world outside our external membranes, wherever we find ourselves on our travels.

Consciousness is the agent of our engagement that keeps that two-way traffic going across our outer membrane for one lifetime. Because we keep changing our locales and situations with every move we make, our minds have to provide us with a flow of what’s going on so we can judge whether it is good or bad for our welfare, and act accordingly by moving in or backing away.

Since we get only scanty coded messages about where we are and what’s going on, we don’t have a very complete sense of our situation at any particular time, so have to make a lot of guesses to fill in the gaps. Mostly we’re wrong and have to correct our estimate, but sometimes we do the right thing and score big, which is encouraging and keeps us going a little bit longer.

Consciousness, then, is about doing the best we can with what we’ve got in the time we’re allowed. When we are born, we don’t know anything but how to suck, poop, burp, and cry. If we make it through the first seconds because somebody takes us in hand and sees to it that we are fed and kept warm, then we may make it through the first minute, hour, day, or even longer. Engagement with our immediate surroundings, as I say, is our first task if we are to make headway as wayfarers to our second day, next month, and even through our first year.

But you know this already, or you wouldn’t be here. You’re already a wayfarer first-class, working your way ahead every day of your life. Finding what you need, eliminating what you don’t. It’s that simple, and that hard.

More later. Take care in everything you do. And above all, have fun.

Sincerely, Steve from planet Earth.

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