(Copyright © 2009)


I got the following comment from a friend in North Carolina the other day:


You write in your Blog of December 31 [A Sense of Space], “We take it for granted we can walk through woods without crashing into trees, pursue quarry across almost any kind of terrain without losing it, or cross busy city streets. . . .” You could have added, “or walk at all.” I watch people walk down West Beaufort Road, from my perch on the front porch, or from my scooter at the grocery store—there they go, putting one foot in front of the other without hesitation and without wondering about the complex machinery of muscles and brain coordination that make it possible, and I want to shout to them, “Become aware of yourself and the miracle of being able to walk at all, it is a gift from The Gods not to be taken for granted,” while I watch myself, as in a mirror, stumbling around, having to touch surfaces in order to remain standing, needing support by a cane and a companion for the short trip to the mailbox, the motor nerves misfiring at times.

          No, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I have learned to live with this condition, now in its 9th year. It is just that I have become very aware of the ease with which [most people] walk, and how.


Exactly so! We are aware from the center of our lives, and that center assumes the conditions within which we achieve consciousness—including injuries, personal frailties, and aging. It cannot be any other way.


Thank you, Friend, for sending that comment. It underscores how each of us has no choice but to be conscious in our own way. Which is likely to be different than how it was yesterday or ten years ago. Consciousness is fluid because our life situations never stop changing. There are too many variables involved. It takes effort and concentration just to try to keep up. Life is always challenging and hopefully exciting because its daily course runs from What now? to What next!


Consciousness exists in neither a perfect world that is the same for all nor in a vacuum. All of us live with special conditions that affect our outlooks on personal experience. For each one of us, consciousness is constrained as my consciousness in particular because it arises within this actual body as it lives out the details of its actual life.


I say that consciousness is situated in the circumstances bearing on that actual life here and now. Which involves an ever-changing mix of feelings, memories, acquired skills, actions, relationships, companions, expectations, goals, and all the variables affected by genetic makeup, family interactions, education, training, and a host of personal life experiences. As a consequence, consciousness is not a general property of being human, but is the specific attainment of a given person carrying on as best she or he can at a particular time and place under the limited selection that pertains out of all possible circumstances.


Consciousness, that is, has little to do with any supposedly “real” world. It is more a mental contraption that each of us assembles from the materials we are given in living our lives. And, as I have said, there is no airspace between the self and its consciousness—they are one and the same. I am my consciousness; my consciousness is me. All else is a matter of imagination and wishful thinking, which, too, are aspects of consciousness.