Monday 10 November 2014

Do you "live" for real or are you just a "survivor"?

Quality Survival: Sea Food platter with Tagliatelle al Funghi
It seems that in real life, to whom little is given much is expected! That’s how the old saying should read. When life is reduced to a matter of survival we don’t really live in the true sense. We don’t really do anything, we just run on the survival treadmill like hamsters in a cage. What do I mean by a survival oriented life? A life that values above all else those things that you can: eat; drive in; live in (with some degree of luxury); have sex with (of either gender); holiday at (the more exotic the better); provide warmth or coolness (depending on your latitude), clean running water, energy to power life; bodily adornment (via clothing or accessories – preferably with some degree of style and glamour); fame; status; and power over others so you can gain a bigger share of all the survival fulfillers prior listed. You might just as well be a lion on the serengeti, or a wolf in the tundra when your'e in this mode.

Living and construction require deferred gratification
What is curious is that survival is an entirely selfish endeavor, animalistic even (in the anthropological not pejorative sense). However to live, we require to engage in a positive way with others, a way that enhances the welfare of more than number one. Love, creativity of any kind, construction of any kind is only really possible when one reaches out beyond number one. Love for example has to reach beyond just sex and brings complex human qualities into play, like negotiation, empathy and trust. Survivors don’t love, they lust. Survivors need instant gratification, but living requires a sense of purpose and deferred gratification.

Sunflowers (Van Gogh Gallery) Vincent Van Gogh 1888
The man who in 1888 created the iconic picture of sunflowers in a vase sold one painting in his lifetime and died in poverty. Was he a fool or did he live? A century later in 1988 this picture, Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" sold at auction in Christies for £25m. Art lovers everywhere consider it a masterpiece.

Whether you’re in Accra or Accrington, London or Lagos, Rome or Ramallah you have to ask the question: "are you surviving or actually living?"  The picture at the top was a tasty bit of “survival” I did the other day at my favourite restaurant in Ealing, West London. The gratification was instant!! Enjoyment, total, no question.  But in a hundred years who would offer a bent penny for my telling of it?

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