Flourishing. Again.

Beltane and the Living in the Mountains Moon

art@willworthington

Friday gratefuls: Alan. The holy trail. Kate, always Kate. This grand wakin’ up mornin’. Each morning a resurrection and a new promise. Ichi-go, ichi-e. Increasingly my life mantra. Mussar. Moses. Leo. Luke. Better rested. Dressing up for the first time in years. Acting for an audience today. Oh, my. Still lotsa things to learn.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Being able to learn

Tarot: Ten of Vessels, Happiness

“..the water from the lake plashes down joyously, crashing against the rocks, filling and spilling over Ten of vessels that sit in the cascading waters. The air vibrates with negatively charged ions – We are energized. This is happiness, joyous and alive: ever-changing and yet always to be found.

We acknowledge our relationships. We honor the universal flow of energy between all forms of life. We celebrate the child’s hand on our own. We expose the vulnerable soft throat of ourselves as we allow ourselves to love. We accept the ecstasy and grief.”  may it be so, tarotx.net

 

Let me say a word for happiness. And then a word against it. I am a happy guy, joyous even. Although in a subdued way that some might miss. When I experience the momentary delight of a breakfast with a friend, an intellectual exchange, a meeting with friends of over 30 years, Kep’s warm presence, I’m happy. And these happen a lot so I experience happiness a lot. But. It’s a by-product rather than a goal.

As I’ve often written here, I’m a eudoimaniac.* “the condition of human flourishing or of living well.” see link below. Aristotle focused on reason and political action as the characteristic human activities and therefore the source of eudoimania. OK. That’s one take. I mean, I know, Aristotle, but still…

I’d throw in love and compassion. Also. honesty and vulnerability. Living well, or flourishing, which I like a lot as a description of my own aims, does include the application of reason to life. No need to look further than the January 6th hearings to understand the value and virtue of applying reason. And, political life is the life of the common good. Care for the neighbor and the stranger. Oft cited as a high religious good.

Yes, and. As I learned in my political years, it’s easy to divide the world into them and us. To go after them with all the tools in the political tool box. Yet, love suggests living with the fuzziness of a word more complicated than binary. So flourishing comes when we put away the sword, use other means. Perhaps love?

My flourishing does include working for yours. Working for the flourishing of others seems like a worthy human goal. A worthy life goal. As I said in the gratefuls above, ichi-go, ichi-e has become a life mantra. That is, I flourish in this unique, never to be repeated, and precious moment. Right now you, my neighbor and friend, or you, a stranger to me, are not present, but I’m reaching out to you anyhow. Making myself visible and vulnerable. As I wish to do in each moment.

Flourishing for me also includes time spent reading, listening, thinking. Cooking for myself. Living the Herme life. Living in the Mountains. Hiking. Listening to the Trees. The Mule Deer Does who visited yesterday evening. The Rain and the Snow and the Heat and the Drought. Exercising. Sleeping well.

Here’s where Aristotle and I differ, at least as much as I know about his work. He applies the unique or characteristic function to every instance of a living or human-made thing. To the class of these things. So. Tables flourish when they’re solid and balanced, able to function well. Mule Deers when they eat, reproduce, and provide prey for Mountain Lions. That’s an aspect of it, yes.

And. Each Mule Deer, each Table is also unique not just a member of a class of beings, but an individual sui generis. Gertie was a much different Dog from Vega. Vega again different from her sister, Rigel. Rigel quite different from her boyfriend, Kepler. Yet, all dogs.

Rigel’s flourishing included escaping from the yard and taking Vega with her. Instigating digging holes which Vega helped with. Rigel was a predator. Vega was not. Unless Rigel took her on a hunt. Vega’s flourishing was a big and dynamic personality, chewing on shoes, and claiming chairs.

Just so with humans. My friend Tom’s unique characteristics include a certain Vishnu-quality, holding the world within his purview steady so that others can find their way. Friend Alan a joi de vivre that infects other. Friend Paul a seriousness and compassion that reaches across species and causes. Friend Ode a willingness to challenge his own preconceived notions, to see the world, really see it. Friend Bill to live in the moment with others regardless of their station in life, their beliefs.

Flourishing requires being not only a member of a unique class of living things, but a unique member of that class. As all living things are. None is repeatable, each precious. And each has gifts the whole needs which can be give only when they live fully in their uniqueness.

 

“According to Aristotle, every living or human-made thing, including its parts, has a unique or characteristic function or activity that distinguishes it from all other things. The highest good of a thing consists of the good performance of its characteristic function, and the virtue or excellence of a thing consists of whatever traits or qualities enable it to perform that function well” Brittanica

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