On a solitary stay-cation today, I took something to my car for an outing I had planned. When I returned to my back door, I discovered that I had locked myself out of my house.
No problem. My neighbor has a key. But he wasn’t there. So I was stuck, only to wait for his return.
The only comfortable outside chair that I could find was on another neighbor’s front porch. Unfortunately there was a “country smell” of faint manure there, as well as one hungry mosquito. But I decided to make the best of the hot early September day.
I began to observe the array of plants at my feet (feeding, I’m sure, on what was causing that “country smell”). I was trying hard not to be frustrated and self-condemning, since it was a vacation day, by telling myself that there was some greater purpose going on, which was, of course, unknown to me.
After a while I tired of contemplatively watching plants grow, so I walked a mile or so down one of Nashville’s busiest streets (without a sidewalk) to spend two dollars that I had, at a convenience story. I got a canned drink and a granola bar. After chowing down, I returned to my neighbor’s porch, carrying my empty coke can with me. My other neighbor (the one with the key) still wasn’t back.
Aha! I could fill the can with water from an outdoor spout. So I did and then set back in the chair sipping lawn water and watching plants again.
Soon, however, philosophical thoughts began to run through my mind about things like: life, consciousness, conscience, rationality, contemplation, self, and evil — so many thoughts, I didn’t want to forget them. So I took a pen out of my pocket and looked for some paper, but I had none.
Then I noticed three cardboard boxes on the porch. I tore one of the inside flaps off one of the boxes and began to write some definitions, plus all of what you’ve been reading.
I hope my disrupted stay-cation day definitions will help you to discover something meaningful, because right now, I need a purpose for the sweat on my forehead.
This all began at 9:30 this morning. It is now 2:07. I think I will go fill up my coke can again. (My neighbor with the key finally returned at 2:50.)
And, oh yeah, here are those definitions. After all my troubles, please read them carefully.
1) Life is an intangible force that uses matter to create various, usually complex, systems, structures, and forms; and animates them so that they defy natural laws such as lifting matter contrary to nature’s gravitational pull. Life is not the systems, structures, and forms themselves, because when life leaves, they cease to function, lose their ability to transform matter, and gradually break down into nature’s elemental building blocks.
2) Consciousness is the awareness that the signals received through the senses are not just data being automatically processed, but represent genuine aspects and realities of the environment.
3) Conscience is an inner prompting that informs human beings that certain actions, thoughts, words, and/or behaviors ought to be done and that certain other actions, thoughts, words, and/or behaviors ought not to be done. Conscience is not instinct, because it can easily be ignored or overridden and eventually even silenced.
4) Rationality is the ability to mentally interact with signals received through the senses, signals stored in the memory, and with intangible ideas and concepts, so that material and/or non-material realities (like math) are comprehended and discovered, and so that false ideas, perceived as real, are ascertained and exposed.
5) Contemplation is the internal act of focusing awareness and attention in such a way as to retrieve ideas, insight, and inspiration from wherever it comes. Contemplation can be used to retrieve helpful or harmful ideas, according to the choice of the contemplating person.
6) Self is the individual person contained in a living human body, which is commonly expressed in the simple word, me — historically known as the soul.
7) Evil is a concept that is meaningless unless there is a non-material, moral order to the Universe. Evil is any violation of the universal moral order, while good is any alignment with the moral order.