The Art of Humanity
Andrew R. Warnecke, MA, LPC
I recently had nose surgery, and as I laid in bed alone after I got home in somewhat of a compromised condition, I came up with the subject for the next in the “Art of” series. In my pain-pilled, drunken state, I realized my fragility. I was so vulnerable to the process. I was put under anesthesia and that was all I remembered until I woke up a couple hours later in recovery. I admit this wasn’t open heart surgery, but as my mom used to say “there are no minor surgeries.” I started thinking as I laid in my bed paralyzed by the after effects of the surgery and my pain meds. We all struggle between human “doing” and human “being.” What I mean is that we all have so much to do that we often have little time to be. I am convinced that most people don’t even really understand the difference between our doing and our being. I was basically forced into a state of being as I couldn’t effectively get up and do anything. (I also had a blindfolding ice pack on my eyes about 30 minutes of each hour.)
At first I was rather restless and my mind only really focused on what had just happened to my body – more specifically on my big ole Warnecke schnoz! Then I made the transition as I have so many times before into the abyss of my humanity. I started to think about my wife and my two children, and then I branched off into my extended and then ultimately my great big wonderful human family. I followed streams of consciousness that brought tears to my eyes and rage to my soul. I thought of everything from world peace (which would be one of my all time greatest accomplishments) to memories of fishing with my dad and missing him so badly.
I think that to establish and practice the art of humanity, one has to have the opportunity to experience it. We again are really conditioned by our society and culture to forget the being and just keep on doing. How many of you out there actually take the time without detraction to really contemplate the being that you are? I am certain that we would all benefit and many already do from practicing that art of humanity. The more in touch with who you are, as opposed to how you are, the less the lines of oneness blur.
We seem to be much more attuned to our differences than we are our similarities. I think there’s an Alcoholics Anonymous saying… “When you walk into a meeting focus on the similarities, not the differences.” I like the idea, because we really do see what we are looking for. I have an exercise that I use with my patients. I ask them to look around the room and find everything they can that is the color red. I tell them to keep it stored in the memory until I tell them to let me know. I ask them to close their eyes and then I ask them to tell everything that is green. They all get it!
I think that to become more human we have to understand that our being can’t be left out; it must be a priority. The research has often shown that the more we know about ourselves, the better is our life. If you know what you want, you have a much better chance of obtaining it. Another good reason to practice the art of humanity is that you will have much less conflict between your doing and your being, which again frees up more energy to really focus on getting the most out of the amazing human experience.
The doing part of us is innate; it is focused on really only two functions to obtain pleasure and to avoid pain. The doing part of us is wonderful but very dangerous if the being isn’t well established and has “over 50% of the stock,” so to speak. I think one of the reasons that we are so susceptible to addictions is because once the doing grabs the power it takes some real effort to balance out the psyche.
Another one of my favorite quotes is, “If you don’t go within, you will most certainly go without.”-Chitrabhanu. The tricky thing about finding the humanness in others is that to be good at it you have an advanced understanding of yourself. This takes practice, and we are not really given much by the way of education in our families and schools on how to calm ourselves and find the train for the long journey within. I think that the key is the “one step at a time” strategy. The first step is to allow for the conversation to erupt on the inside about “Who was I? Who am I?” and most importantly, “Who do I want to be?”
So here are some ideas... The next time you have a minute to really think about where you have been, where you are, and where you are going, invite the inner voices to openly debate. When you are alone in your car, put down the cell phone and turn off the radio or whatever device you are distracting your being with and ask yourself questions. “Why am I here?” And quietly (or loudly if you please) answer, “To live, love, and leave a legacy!” Put down the laptop or iPad or kindle or whatever and have a conversation with your loved ones about goals, dreams, and aspirations! I am sure that if we all make a concerted effort to get in touch with what we all have – Humanity – that the world (our inner and outer worlds) will be a better place to reside.