Zero to Hero Assignment 1: The Existential Guide to What I Am Doing Here

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Warning: This post is unsually long and deep.

The WordPress Commissioners clearly don’t muck around.  They’ve gone straight for the juggler on day 1 with a rather a deep exercise in blogging existentialism. And with many thanks to Wikipedia, I will use the main concepts of existentialism to try to answer this most pertinent question.

Existence Precedes Essence

According to Wikipedia:

A central proposition of Existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the most important consideration for individuals is the fact that they are an individual—an independently acting and responsible, conscious being (“existence”)—rather than what labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories the individual fits (“essence”). The actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called their “true essence” instead of there being an arbitrarily attributed essence others use to define them.

midelife recreationOne of the main reasons for starting my blog was to better understand the changes that were coming at me as I was approaching middle age. Hence the name of this blog, Raising The Curtain. I felt that writing about the uncertainties I was experiencing would assist to focus my strategy in dealing with and understanding the changes. I also felt that writing about things which generally were only talked about behind the curtain and to the select few, may help others going through the same thing. This was and is  my vehicle to deal with middle ageing with irreverence and authenticity.

The Absurd 

Once again from Wikipedia:

The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning in the world beyond what meaning we give it….Because of the world’s absurdity, at any point in time, anything can happen to anyone, and a tragic event could plummet someone into direct confrontation with the Absurd.

This blog is definitely about the absurd. In it, I try to highlight the absurdity of life and laugh in its face. There is no better way to deal with absurdity than through humour, because no matter what else you do life will keep throwing it at you. This blog looks at the absurd in a way that conveys the notion that we are all at the mercy of life’s absurdities and none of us is really any more silly (or better) than any one else.

Facticity

More Wikipedia mastery:

Facticity is both a limitation and a condition of freedom. It is a limitation in that a large part of one’s facticity consists of things one couldn’t have chosen (birthplace, etc.), but a condition in the sense that one’s values most likely depend on it. However, even though one’s facticity is “set in stone” (as being past, for instance), it cannot determine a person: The value ascribed to one’s facticity is still ascribed to it freely by that person. As an example, consider two men, one of whom has no memory of his past and the other remembers everything. They have both committed many crimes, but the first man, knowing nothing about this, leads a rather normal life while the second man, feeling trapped by his own past, continues a life of crime, blaming his own past for “trapping” him in this life. There is nothing essential about his committing crimes, but he ascribes this meaning to his past.

However, to disregard one’s facticity when, in the continual process of self-making, one projects oneself into the future, would be to put oneself in denial of oneself, and would thus be inauthentic. In other words, the origin of one’s projection must still be one’s facticity, though in the mode of not being it (essentially). Another aspect of facticity is that it entails angst, both in the sense that freedom “produces” angst when limited by facticity, and in the sense that the lack of the possibility of having facticity to “step in” for one to take responsibility for something one has done also produces angst.

This concept is highly relevant to this blog. In reaching middle age I instinctively understand that I have to let go of old notions that no longer serve me. Whilst most of my perceptions and learned behaviours from the past have served me well to this point, they are not going to do so going forward and in fact may be a hindrance to my further growth. I therefore have to ascribe a far lesser importance to them, but recognise that ultimately I am who I am. This blog is a journal of sorts of my personal journey and I have much still to learn. However I do know, that if we needlessly hold onto outer beauty, we may miss seeing our inner beauty which is far more sustainable in the long term.

Authenticity

More wonderful words from Wikipedia:

Many noted existentialist writers consider the theme of authentic existence important. Authentic existence involves the idea that one has to “create oneself” and then live in accordance with this self. What is meant by authenticity is that in acting, one should act as oneself, not as “one” acts or as “one’s genes” or any other essence requires. The authentic act is one that is in accordance with one’s freedom.

Living authentically is extremely important to me and authenticity is the  main quality I look for in others. Middle age has a tendency man is nothing elseto hone one’s bullshit radar and frankly, I have had enough of dealing with it to last three lifetimes. With this blog, I strive to write authentically and to put a piece of myself in each blog post. These stories of me and my life are real. My writing is real. My comments are real and the connection that comes from me to fellow bloggers is real. This blog is designed for those whose feet are firmly placed on the ground, no matter how high they may soar or how low they may go. It’s my good, my bad and my ugly. Leave your masks at the door.

The Other and the Look

From you know where:

To clarify, when one experiences someone else, and this Other person experiences the world (the same world that a person experiences), only from “over there”, the world itself is constituted as objective in that it is something that is “there” as identical for both of the subjects; a person experiences the other person as experiencing the same things. This experience of the Other’s look is what is termed the Look (sometimes the Gaze).

This blog is also about being introduced to others’ perspectives, about the ebb and flow of conversation, about learning new things and exchanging ideas. The comments that I have received over the time I have been blogging contain a treasure trove of information, insights and viewpoints. We all exist in the objective WordPress world but each blog has its own community. This blog is about building community and contributing to community.

Angst and Despair

Wikipedia says:

Angst is often described as a drama an adolescent troubles with during their developmental years. This adolescent trouble or self-loathing is often tied to sexual attractiveness, both males and females often feel this angst and worry that they will not find both a partner or romantic conditional love for who they are. As adolescents face the prospect of adulthood where they must take control of their life the dread of both facing life alone and the fear of freedom and responsibility often lead to depression.

and:

Despair, in existentialism, is generally defined as a loss of hope.[ More specifically, it is a loss of hope in reaction to a breakdown in one or more of the defining qualities of one’s self or identity. If a person is invested in being a particular thing, such as a bus driver or an upstanding citizen, and then finds his being-thing compromised, he would normally be found in state of despair — a hopeless state. For example, a singer who loses the ability to sing may despair if she has nothing else to fall back on—nothing to rely on for her identity. She finds herself unable to be what defined her being.

Generally, I am not an angsty or despairing person. However, I realised approaching middle age that if I didn’t externalize some of what I was feeling, I would be dealing with it longer than I needed to. Hence this blog. Moreover, in surfing the Net for material on middle age, I was struck by the negativity and the sense of loss that surrounded the process. I have not been feeling either and in fact was rather positive about the changes being wrought (even through I was struggling to understand them fully) and I wanted to contribute positive dialogue to the conversation. I have since discovered that there are more than a few bloggers here who are tackling middle age and ageing in general in their positively individualistic styles and they have proved an inspiration. I only hope that I can inspire others.

I also blog because I am the mother of two teenage sons. That should be enough said, but once again I turn to this blog and humour to deal with the trials, tribulations and the joys of parenting teens. I need to be resilient to deal with their angst and despair and this blog is one of my vehicles.

I hope I have adequately answered this first assignment and given you some insights into why I do what I do here.

As a last word, my blog is intended to be mostly humorous. Less often it is serious and reflective. Humour though is the glue that bonds the reflections in this blog together and it is the tie that generally binds me to my readers and fellow bloggers and they to me. Humour can be mistaken for those that don’t seek it as a sign of lack of intelligence or immaturity. Approaching this blog in that vein underestimates it and the writer and ignores the messages. To do so would be the biggest tragedy of all.

Two posts in one day. I know, right!

36 thoughts on “Zero to Hero Assignment 1: The Existential Guide to What I Am Doing Here

  1. I am sure you will receive many comments on this. A voyage of discovery in many ways, your writing is real as you are and if I can contribute any way into your community, I shall be delighted. I shall hopefully be able to insert humour when appropriate ;-)

  2. OMG This makes me stoked to have been forced to get up at 6 AM via mini slaps in the face by my one year old. So glad I stumbled upon this. I’m going to follow you to see more. :-D

  3. Great post to start off the challenge (or series, or whatever it’s called :) ). I agree about the need to maintain humor. Not sure how we’d get through this life otherwise. And I love that you want to present middle-age from a positive perspective. I, too, haven’t yet felt the negativeness of my years. Perhaps I will someday, but for now I’ve welcomed the changing chapters in my life.

    • This is such a cool comment, Carrie – thank you. It almost feels like there’s peer pressure to be wary of middle age. I’m saying bring it on and let’s ride the wave together.

  4. You have now raised the bar for the rest of this series ;-) No, seriously – this is an epic, thoughtful post. Needless to say: I can relate a lot, in particular with writing in order to change and transform yourself a bit. It gleams through all your posts anyway – although you now how to “engage your readers” in social media lingo you don’t write because you are craving for attention.
    I also “believe in” humor. I guess I have said it before (as I say this often) but I feel that sense of humor is usually the best indicator of how well I can get along with somebody.

    • It is a great indicator. Often times I have come across people you think that humour is the pursuit of silliness and the province of the immature. Some of the most intelligent narrative and dialogue in the written world is humorous or satirical. There is certainly a place for intellectuals and intellectual pursuit, but all the funny people I know embrace humour and enjoy its place in their life. Never underestimate the intelligence of a clown/comedian :).

      And thank you for the wonderful compliment about engagement. I love that you said that and love the authenticity that comes through your blog as well :).

  5. Without humor we would be lost. From the moment we face the mirror first thing in the morning, a good cackle isn’t a bad starting point. For me, that is.

    I look forward to more of your new posts. :-)

  6. Judy, I think we are all the proverbial ducks on the pond. Our webbed feet are paddling like hell below the surface as we try to stay calm above it. I am just hopeful we can keep the hunters away to swim another day. Your blog is a treat for many. Keep up the good work and you can be angsty or despairing every once in a while. BTG

    PS – I am so glad you defined facticity. I was reaching for the dictionary.

    • Hey, no peaking under my pond :). But you are right, frantic energy below means gracefulness like a swan, well that’s the theory anyway. Thanks for the wonderful sentiments BTG, I’m grateful to have crossed bloggy paths with you.

  7. My blogging community has also been an important part of my life during the last 6 years…mainly because I live in a remote area and don’t get to see other people very often.

    Humour along with good health are two of the most important things in life and for me they seem to go hand in hand…..when one takes a nosedive, so does the other.

    • I hadn’t realised you’ve been blogging for 6 years, no wonder you have such a polished and funny product. I especially love your poems, when are we going to see another one?

      • Due to popular opinion I ceased writing poetry . I enjoy writing them so if I ever get some spare time I’ll start again just to annoy my critics. ;-)

  8. Loved it! I started zero to hero too. Not as deep as you are, but I’m so impressed. Cone visit and follow my blog, we have a lot in common!

    • Thanks for the feedback and for stumbling on my little corner of the Sphere, Judging by the title to your blog, we sure do have a lot in common. Am now following and will pop over for what promises to be some great reading. I’m only deep once in every 50 posts, so don’t worry it won’t happen again for awhile.

  9. As usual, this is a thoughtful, insightful and inspiring post. Glad I found you last via A to Z and look forward to continuing to follow your journey this year.
    Jagoda

    • Thanks Jagoda, glad to have found you too through the Challenge. I read you regularly too and find your posts very useful. Can you believe the 2014 Challenge is only about three months away?

  10. Thanks Jagoda, glad to have found you too through the Challenge. I read you regularly too and find your posts very useful. Can you believe the 2014 Challenge is only about three months away?

  11. Pingback: Intelligent Life-Forms in the Blogosphere – Again! | Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Just Anything

  12. **raises hand tentatively** I just came to congratulate you on the Intelligent Life-Forms in the Blogosphere award.
    And now that I’ve read a little of your work, I must say, “well deserved” award. I enjoyed your point of view, and I’ll be back again.

    • Thanks so much for the visit and the wonderful feedback. Please feel free to raise your hand any time and be as noisy as you please. Always love having different voices featured on this blog.

I would really love to hear what you have to say. C'mon.. you know you want to!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s