Lose Yourself In Action

“When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear of poverty no more, tremble no more at death…”

Thus says Machiavelli in a letter to Francesco Vettori, Italian diplomat and writer, in December 1513. Machiavelli, founder of modern Political Science and best known for his political masterpiece book, The Prince, was a gifted writer in making visual scenes out of his writings. When I read to him, though he could be describing a strategy for the ruler on how to organize his army, I feel as if I am seeing how the army is getting organized before my eyes. In the above quoted from his letter, Machiavelli is beautifully picturing the tiresomeness of the day life – in which he describes his workday clothes as “muddy” and “sweaty”, denoting that what he was doing involved movements and actions (sweaty) on the ground, not in a comfortable room (muddy). Besides the sense resultant from this condition, it also infers that the physical body must be tired after that day of actions.

However, the remarkable thing about the message here is losing one’s self in something worthwhile that one enjoys doing for itself – not for money, not for fame, not for the boss. Beware! This is different from losing one’s self in a task at hand, like filling accounting balance sheet or envisioning a tracking system for an inventory. Machiavelli here is describing a higher level of engagement in something at hand, which is more than just the traditional busyness of our day work or house duties, that maybe can take our minds, but not our souls, senses, feelings, and the intellect. This is described by Machiavelli in that when he gets to study, his soul is teleported to another world; that he feels as if he is one of them – sitting with them, clothed like them, eating with them, and even discussing matters with them. Not only this, but he also feels as if they are responding back to him and answering him. An interactive experience. Such vividness of experience of the invasive absorption of one into something that close to his soul and mind is an experience to be envied. It’s the experience of losing yourself, with all its sides, in action. It’s a bliss that one can have something in his life that can take him away from his life – even if it was a living person. It must not be a study, or a book. It could be a dream, a beloved person, a mission in life… The key is the transcendence of the experience, of going beyond one’s self into something else. This is because humans need transcendence in their lives – not to live self-centred all the way in their course of life. We need that feeling. Besides the beauty of such experience sufficient for itself, that experience is also important as a defence mechanism: losing oneself in action is a shield from depression, despair, and negative emotions. This is because our minds can only focus in one thing at a time and when our minds are vacuum, there comes the chances for negativity to occupy that empty space. As such, losing ourselves in action, best if it was something we enjoy for itself and something that grabs all our senses and mind, is a therapy to many psychological illnesses – in fact, it’s an actual technique in psychiatry, termed as ‘Occupational Therapy’, in which patients are treated by getting them busy in something that absorbs them. As Tennyson said “I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

Let’s not be dwelling into ourselves only all the time. Let’s give ourselves to something we deeply love and appreciate: a study, a mission, a memory, a beloved, or a thought … to give ourselves wholly so that, like Machiavelli had, we lose sense of our current world, our time, and even the clothes on our bodies and just transcends and be with that something – to tear the imprisonment of time and space and travel with our soul and mind to something beyond ourselves. If that something was of yielding a result, like a study or a writing or a mission in life, the outcome would be extraordinary if we did the thing with that level of transcendence rather than just doing it as a busy task absorbing only the mind. And if it was something that has no specific result, like a memory or a dream or a book we are reading or a thought about the beloved, enough with the outcome of losing ourselves and the exhaustion of our day into something we love – something/someone with which/whom we would just be happy being with with all of our soul and mind, even for a short time. This would the least bring us happiness and shield us from many psychological illnesses.

“Throughout the whole of life one must continue to learn to live, and what will amaze you even more, throughout life once must learn to die.” Seneca

The journey of life is full of births… And in return full of deaths – because every birth is a death for something else.

Learning to live is something that might seem common sense; however, the meaning of “Learn to Live” is much more subtler than we might initially think. This is because Seneca here is not referring to lay living as in the daily running of life per se. However, learning to live is to proceed in the different stages of life with what each stage takes, because each new developmental stage requires learning a new living. An exemplary case of failure to live we might see in the couple who fails to live as parents when they have children, continuing in the same way it was. Learning to live is to learn to proceed into life through the different developments and shifts imposed by our choices and the course of life. Those who fail to live are the ones who live a specific life that’s not suitable for the current situation – like the old who refuses to believe that youth has gone and tries to relive it in actions.

Failure to learn to live is manifested in critical stages of development. A notion we hear about is “Mid-life Crisis”, for example. What’s making it a crisis is the challenge to accommodate rebirth into a new stage and the death of an existing one – which entails a painful tension inside, a battle. There are many crises of that sort. Many tend to avoid the pain associated with such shifts and thus either live inadequately or under depression; however, maturity through life and learning to live is to confront such painful experience of tension – it’s like the woman’s delivery pain to give birth to a new human being. This is what psychologists refer to casually as the Healthy Depression, or simply Healthy Tension. It takes an effort to move from stage to stage; a courage and work on thyself to handle the death of old portion of one’s self and a birth of a new one. That’s learning to live, in the character developmental stages sense.

Also learning to live is adaptation to shifts in the course of life due to change of circumstances: the married becomes divorced/widowed, the healthy becomes sick or handicapped, the parented to orphaned…and vice versa. Some in their avoidance to confront the pain, the fear, and the anxiety associated with such shifts stuck into the old map of looking into reality. They cling to lifestyle, emotions, and attitudes of the old life and in doing so they live not living. Some other remarkable form of change of life route is when one discovers that his/her life is leading in the wrong direction after embarking on a specific road. Some people would tend to let go their dreams or sense of what’s right for them for the same of avoiding battling with something existent. For example, the student who discovered after two years in Engineering school that the Medical profession is right for him and his interest. In such situation, some would take the courage of taking a U-Turn to their living; to mark a death of something that came to be realized as not the right thing and come to learn to live something new thought to be the right thing. However, some would fret on the stress and pain of putting off something they already started to the fear and uncertainty of living something new. They are afraid of dying in what they started and try to live again in something else, that fear is so great that it’s easier to let go the dreams than confronting the pain of shift. There are always valid reasons for doing this or that; what I am saying here is that the key point is a deep reflection and correct thinking about the matter – if  it’s something really the right thing, then learning to die and to live are what’s being called for.

That’s what it meant that one must learn to die, many times, in the journey of life… Because as the course of life takes us, things, including our selves, change and in the eternal change of life, we must learn to confront death and letting go a long cherished part of us and learn to live a new living.

To that end of concept, I would dedicate the below poem “Journey of the Magi”, by Eliot:

All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? This was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But bad thought they were different; this birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

Salutation To The Dawn

Sharing one of my favorite poems written by the Indian dramatist, Kalidasa:

Look to this day!

For it is life, the very life of life.

In its brief course

Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:

The bliss of growth

The glory of action

The splendor of beauty,

For yesterday is but a dream

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day!

Such is the salutation to the dawn.

The ingredients to a happy life and a successful one is the Today at hand. Use the past for lessons and content – Use the future as a vision. But only live and work for Today – Just for Today…

Man’s Search for Meaning – Logotherapy

It could sound as a sentence to ridicule – who cares to search for meaning nowadays! The answer is no, the whole world in its shallowness, fuss, and mess is still looking for meaning. The fuss, shallowness, and mess are in fact signs of desperate attempts to find meaning. The end up is shallowness, because finding meaning in life has its rubrics. The celebrity aspiring people we see chasing talent shows, jumping and dancing with full make-up and gaudy clothes just to get accepted is an example of a desperate attempt to find meaning. It’s the absence of a true definition of true meaning is what the world is lacking – and the absence of mental and spiritual capabilities to chase after it. These two missing attributes is what is lacking and not to say that the world is not searching for meaning. In other words, everyone is seeking to find meaning to his life, however, to how far his mind can reach or perceive. The effort is thus not to try to bring the world to look for meaning, but to help it establish true definition of meaning and nurture mental and spiritual skills to search for it and pursue it.

Man’s Search for Meaning is a valuable book written by Victor Frankl, carrying his invention of what is called as Logotherapy – a method of psychological treatment achieving just that, treating the psychologically problematic person by making him find meaning. Regardless of reaching a medical state, we are all in need of finding meaning, a true one, which becomes more difficult especially in meaningless situations. For example, sickness. State of illness in itself represents something in nature void of meaning to us, thus, suffering is intense. As Frankl states, we suffer more when there is no meaning attached to our suffering. Conceiving this technique himself when he was imprisoned in Hitler’s Nazi camps for years, Frankle could survive the years of torture because he could attach meaning to his suffering. What’s the meaning in suffering Cancer? What’s the meaning in losing a beloved? These are examples of intense meaningless suffers to us, in which suffering is the utmost because there is no perceived meaning we can attach to such situations. Logotherapy is just a school in psychology that discusses these. A typical case Frankl was surveying involves treating a man who was devastated by the death of his wife. He lost appetite in everything and was drawn in a closed circle of depression. He visited Frankl and told him the case. Frankl responded to him “What would be her state if you would be the one who died first?” The man responded that she was to be extremely devastated. Frankl then responded that by her death before you, leaving you to live without her a spare to the extreme pain she could have felt if you were the one who died. The man shook his hands calmly and left. What Frankl did to treat that man was simply that he just attached a meaning to his suffering. Now, the man would live gracefully for the fact that he is suffering on his wife’s stead; he is suffering instead of her. Suffering now became meaningful… and accordingly, more tolerable.

Same thing with all situations and all conducts of our lives. Search for meaning in every conduct through a true definition of it and authentic means of reaching it is a life sweetening approach. Failed attempts to find meaning, in the contrary, result in more frustration and the sense of lost-self – those jumping in from of jury to be accepted in a talent show may not necessarily be happy. That’s because illusive meanings are no meanings; in fact, they add more to suffering.

Manifestations

Whether we are conscious about it or not, our daily life is mostly manifestations of other things, directly tied to these appearances getting to surface or indirectly controlling behind the scene. It doesn’t matter the true nature behind these manifestations; the important thing is how these manifestations impact the course of our lives and how they impact those around us.

At a given day, one may become irritated from work or angry from a colleague or a boss only to return home and these irritations get manifested into aggressiveness to family and beloved. In doing this, one misses the essence of his life, the true value of it… in front of something that is marginal. One misses that he had just replaced what’s priceless with something dumb and worthless. He misses that he had just sold his life to the moment of anger. He oppressed those close to him. Why? The moment of emotional hijacking is so absorbing. Because irritations were not mental, but plunked on the string of emotion, it prevailed. But speaking of emotions, don’t we hold emotions to those close to us as well? Bigger than the emotion we had to the moment of anger from work or something less important that our beloved? Yes. Because we learned that there are emotions… We learned to feel each one on its own… But we did not learn to manage a set of emotions at a time. We learned to hold affections to those we love, alone. And we learned to hold the feeling of anger or frustration from work, alone. Whenever one comes, we feel it on its own. Until it fades or something emotionally hot inside the family so that it takes over our emotional lead again… over and over, until the feeling it toppled by another one and so on. It’s Emotions Management that we did not learn. To live your day with a bunch of emotions, that are often mixed and conflicting, not just one. The day has a label: It’s a good day, It’s a bad day, It’s a frustrating day. What about a day that is a bad day and also a good day at the same time? That’s emotions management, to live by multiple emotions in a day and to manage their manipulations.

The best I have seen from others regarding emotions management is to topple a negative emotion by a positive emotion. The saying of “Be Positive.” This is absolute elusiveness! The smart and realist should come to realize that life is both negatives and positives. And to live only one at a time is futile, because it eludes the other: You live positive, you miss the negative; you live negative, you miss the positive. Emotional management I am speaking about is to live both the negative and the positive together… in a given one day: to label the day as a Bad Day and a Good day at the same time; not by factually listing the positives and negatives of the day, but to FEEL them both, manipulatively. When the negative happens, feel it; when the positive happens feel it. When one is irritated from something at work, feel the negative about it, but once you move to another moment that has its other emotions, carry on to that emotion, without cloning the other matter’s emotion to this matter’s emotion. Emotional management is to manipulate the emotion at hand based on the emotion of the situation, to be responsive to life. To live life with its mix of feelings and unpredictability of its situations. That is, to experience all life’s emotions without having one emotion persisting on the account of other emotion, rendering you missing some moments and hurting yourself and others in that persistence. Don’t let an emotion in one matter manifests itself in other situations of your life, stealing many things from your life.

A human lives with a bundle of emotions; that one should learn to live by many simultaneously, manipulatively, rather than sequentially.

Running After Death

‘Running after death’ would sound applying to someone who is fed up from life and seeking death or considering suicide. However, this would be ‘wishing death’ or ‘seeking death’ or ‘wanting death’. But ‘Running After Death’ applies to all of us, when we think about death. How?

Death is one of the ultimate ‘standstill’ facts in our lives. By standstill it means that Death just stands uniquely to us at the end of journey, it doesn’t chase us and it doesn’t do anything about us… Just standing right at the corner; like you are walking in a corridor at the end of which there is someone standing – just standing. We approach it bit by bit as time passes by; that is, we approach it on the time dimension till the event happens. However, when it occupies our minds, we become running after it, because simply Death doesn’t come to us. Someone would tell me why thinking that way is worthwhile at all? The answer is that because we gets afraid of Death, we tend to think of it as if it’s chasing us. But realizing the fact that by doing this, WE become the ones who are chasing it, we should learn to let go chasing it; that is, to let go thinking of it in ‘itself’. In Itself here means that you think of ‘Death’ as an event, which is the wrong consideration, because with this you become the one who is chasing it and after all Death will inevitably happen. However, the other correct model is to stop chasing it, but to proceed to it. Big difference.

To Proceed to something means that you have done something that enables you to qualify to something next. Like when you pay your university tuition, you can ‘Proceed’ to class. When you pay for your hotel stay, you ‘Proceed’ to your room. But you cannot go to your room without paying for your stay first.  You know that there is a class you would be attending, so you make sure you pay your tuition so that you proceed to it. You know that Death would be occurring, but you make sure you do something so that you proceed to it, in that qualifying sense. While Death as an event does not require from us a ‘qualifying’ action to Proceed to it, we are the one who needs a qualifying action to Proceed to it. We can just let it happen, or we can proceed to it. When we let it happen, we are passive and when it happens, it happens while we are at any condition. But when we Proceed to it, it still happens, but not just happens because we reach it with a specific condition, a condition that we choose and keep on building throughout the journey of life. These concepts of ‘Proceed’ Vs. ‘Chase’ are why it’s worthwhile to think of the matter that way. When we keep thinking of the ‘event’ of Death, we are not doing anything rather than ‘Running after it’, which is destructive and futile. But when we just acknowledge the fact as standstill at the end of the road and that we are walking to it rather than it chasing us, we think of the matter as Proceeding to it and how we should Proceed to it. In this line of thought, the event ceases to be the centre of focus in itself. By this, it becomes more matters how we approach it rather than the happening of the event. In this, it becomes important what we are accomplishing towards it or how we are Proceeding to it… and the event in itself becomes less important.

Don’t chase death by thinking of it. Enough knowing that it’s there… And Proceed to It. That is, care about the walk of your life. That’s the role of death after all: to make you think about the walk of your life, not just to stay thinking of it itself.

Forget-ness

I shall in this writing examine Forget-ness, or the phenomenon of forgetting. As I proceed with this fundamental nature of human being, I shall be considering its effect on human’s actions and emotions.

At the theoretical level, there is a separation: Logical Mind and Emotional Mind. Actions are from Logical Mind that in turn gets feedback from emotions resultant from the Emotional Mind. Having made this distinction, it follows naturally to ask: Where do Forget-ness initiate? Is it an act of the Logical Mind (LM) or the act of the Emotional Mind (EM)? The answer to this question is led by other questions: When humans do forget and where the forgotten things exist? Or are they basically destroyed that they have no existence? But if they do no have an existence and are destroyed once human forgets; then, why humans can remember things? Thus, taking the feature of ‘remembering’ as a factor, can we say that we can decide whether forgotten things as existing or destroyed only through the fact whether we can remember them or nor; if we can remember something, we would say that it still has an existence and if we don’t, we can safely say that such thing is destroyed? Could be… However, for this to be true, we must prove that things that are forgotten and cannot be ‘remembered’ are things that do not affect us altogether. So to refine the previous statement we shall say: if I cannot remember something and that something does not affect my logical or emotions; then, only in this case, we can say that what’s forgotten and unremembered has no existence or has been destroyed. In this sense, on forgotten things existence or none, the act of remembering stays to be the deciding factor. But this is even not true. Psychoanalysis and a multitude of psychological theories have proved to us that things are forgotten and cannot be remembered can still affect us subconsciously throughout the course of our lives. It can affect our personalities, behaviors, and actions. Hence, forgotten things even if not remembered are not destroyed inside us and still have an existence, that might go even further and impact us behind the scenes.

So where forgotten things exist? Physically, this would depend on whether forget-ness is an act of the Logical Mind or the Emotional Mind, my very first question. I will take analytical yet observational steps in attempting an answer to this. Psychologists and cognitive scientists tell us that Logical Mind is for structural activities, logical things, calculations… etc. Emotional Mind is responsible for feelings; that is, I would call it to be responsible for putting ‘flavors’ to the mechanics of the Logical Mind. I might be engaged in a mathematical work, pure Logical, but the Emotional Mind gives me a flavor of being excited or frustrated. Remember, this distinction is for illustrative purpose; both minds kick in inseparably. This is a rough illustration of these two minds nature for the purpose of our discussion without going into scientific details. So is Forget-ness a mechanic of the Logical Mind or a Flavor of the Emotional Mind? Here, I am not interested in the pure biological explanation of the memory works and such; however, I am concerned with the experience itself as one witnesses it. To proceed from this distinction of the Logical Mind and Emotional Mind, let’s take a model of an event that happened to us. We give the proper reaction to it in two phases, conceptually. The first phase is the instance of time in which the event had occurred. That is, the exact time of the event occurrence. This is when the Logical Mind registers the observation. The second phase is what I would call the ‘Maintaining Phase.’ It is the phase that follows the Logical Mind registering the observation or experience of the event. It is the phase that sparks the emotional reaction and it also keeps the taste of the event after it’s finished and gone. A happy event makes human happy for a while even though the event is already finished and became a past; a sad event puts the human in sorrow for a while even though it became a past. The second phase is purely emotional mind. On the other hand, the first phase is important for the Logical Mind. The viable phase for our discussion here would be the second phase, as it is the candidate phase where Forget-ness may be occurring. Since it’s the second phase that maintains the taste of an event following its finish, then, if we will forget, then, it makes sense that it’s the second phase, the Emotional Mind, as the owning part, is the one that buries the last remaining thing of a past event, which is its taste. However, the Emotional Mind does not have exclusive ownership of the last remaining bite of an event. This is because the Logical Mind can still access the Emotional Mind registry or trap it once its element surfaces and act on it. That’s when for example we speak of ‘control your emotions,’ The Emotional Mind surfaces a feeling of fear yet your Logical Mind can be instructed to act on that feeling and remove it. This element of Logical Mind still able to intervene in the Emotional Mind, we can revert and say that Forget-ness is doubted to be the act of the Emotional Mind even though it’s thought to be the owning part, it’s not autonomous and can be acted upon by the Logical Mind. Then, still our question not answered, but I will repose it in another form: is Forget-ness a flavor created by the Emotional Mind (since we called it to be creating emotional flavors to events) or is it an act of the Logical Mind caused by its intervention in the working on the Emotional Mind? If we assume that Forget-ness is an act of the Logical Mind, this means that when a human is sad for losing a dear person and while under the sadness ‘flavor’, the Logical Mind pops up and orders “Forget the sorrow now” and the order is executed and things are forgotten. If we will say that this is true; then, why Forget-ness happens gradually? If it’s an act of the Logical Mind in the fashion just outlined, then, forgetting would be like a push of a button; however, as we forget, we do this bit by bit with days. Therefore, Forget-ness can never be an act of the Logical Mind. A human does not decide to forget; however, he simply forgets. Now, let’s go to the other way: what’s left for us then is to say that Forget-ness must be then an act of the Emotional Mind since the Logical proved not to qualify. If we suppose that Forget-ness is the act of the Emotional Mind, then, we would ask: how the mind that initiated the flavor in the first place can be the same mind that works to eliminate that same flavor? The answer would be that the Emotional Mind does not work to eliminate a flavor basically. It only works to generate flavors to events. Forget-ness is not a flavor even so that we can say of it as could be generated by the Emotional Mind to remove another flavor. It’s not a flavor because it does not follow the two-step cycle outlined above with the Logical Mind registering then Emotional Mind creating a flavor to this registry. Then, if Forget-ness is not flavor; therefore, it is also not an act of the Emotional Mind.

Now that we reached that Forget-ness is not an act of Logical Mind and it’s not an act of Emotional Mind. So what is Forget-ness and how it’s done? The answer to this very first question is that there is no such thing called Forget-ness. We already set the stage that not being able to capture something into the consciousness nor remembering it does not mean that we have forgotten. There is no thing called Forget-ness in the physical reality perspective. Flavors, happy or sad, still exist inside us throughout the human life. It is the working of the Emotional and Logical Minds that many things are generated and suppressed deep inside us. It is the accumulation of events and flavors with the progressive dimension of time that a certain flavor fades away. Day in, Day out as the human lives, the Logical Mind keeps registering and the Emotional Mind keeps generating; even if someone’s life is empty, still a living being keeps his minds registering and generating even the least of sensory data from seeing and hearing… An element that keeps suppressing and pushing old flavors downward behind the scene; leaving them controlling us in no visible way. And that the human lives and that the Logical Mind has access to the Emotional Mind repository, a long forgotten flavor can still be picked up and brought into surface: what is to be called ‘Remembering.’ And once remembered, the Emotional Mind revives the memory again: you remember the death of a dear person many years ago and feel sorrow once more. The degree or such recall of emotion relies on the intensity of the recall by the Emotional Mind. This, the conclusion that there is no Forget-ness and that long forgotten flavors and feelings influence us unconsciously and can be brought into consciousness anytime, is the work of a whole branch of Psychology; psychoanalysis.

Since there is no Forget-ness, the human remains relevant to his lifetime. Let’s not leave what we experience to just come and be abandoned to this mechanism without making the best out of it. To fully utilize the moment when it’s under the siege of our consciousness… Dear moments, tough moments; moments of love, moments of hatred; moments we are surrounded by the beloved, moments of solitude; moments of learning, moments of working… All are too relevant to each one’s lifetime. Use it, before it gets archived and impacts you at the time when you are now not aware of it.

The Fatherless

In the contemporary period of our times, bit by bit, we are losing the true meaning of a family. Bonds are starting to lose the true affection, replacing it by emotionless technological advancements. Family members may be living in the same household, but with each one holding a device to engage into a virtual world rather than the real one. It’s like one needed a bigger world rather than the small one that of the household. One needed to connect with people thousands miles away, engage into a world level content rather than sharing in the limited channel of communication at home. It’s like it is more pleasurable to open Facebook, Twitter, or CNN to read what the whole world is saying rather than listening to what one’s own parents, siblings, and beloved are saying; for they seem too local and accordingly less appealing than the whole circle of friends, the whole group, or the whole world; through the window called Social Networks and the Web. Or maybe one is enjoying the identity-less world of the internet and social networks; the details-less view, where one would be able to make and control his appearances, which are under less control in front of the same household. On Social Networks and the internet, one can draw the appearance he wants. In the olden days, family members after work or school spend the night watching TV together or going out together. In vacations and weekends, family members would go to parks, ride bicycles, or BBQ. Obviously, social networks and the technological advancements have changed the landscape of social and family relationships and bonds. Needless to enumerate the inherent positives and negatives of such dynamic change. However, if this is the case with co-residing family members that we at least experience multiple times during our life together, one would speak of what could be worse: Children born and raised up without fathers. In our contemporary period, more children are growing up without remarkable father intervention. Two main drivers of interest in this writing are: 1) The increase in divorce rate worldwide and 2) Labor migration. Both can be entitled under one name: Non-resident biological fathers. In this writing, I exclude some radical forms of fatherlessness, other than the two listed above: 1) Orphan children, for this form of fatherlessness constitutes a no-choice factor, 2) Existing fathers in the same household, but emotionless, less participating, and indifferent to their children, for this comes from a different root cause and entails different routes of impacts and resolutions.

Family, as sociologists call  it ‘Primary Socialization’, remains the backbone and nucleus of any society. Through this primary socialization, civil members of a society are produced, puffing out the major ingredients of this small family into the whole society; if all is good, society improves; if things are bad, the whole society suffers. Yet, these impacts are not responsibly and carefully taught or examined by those starting families and taking the decision to have children. Thanks to the ‘pure’ biological nature of having children, which granted automaticity masks out the mental preparedness by-product of the process, which is sadly not automatic. One can be granted to have a baby from pure biological sense without having to satisfy the intangible mental attributes as a prerequisite. While such absence of preparedness and teachings of what it means to have children have generalized impacts on any family, the thing is enormously devastating when it comes to fracturing the family, which is again attributed majorly to this same root cause. Today, once a family has started, it grows easily to destroy it, sadly after having children. The very act does not lay in examining reasons of separation, whether by divorce or just leaving out, rather it lies in questioning why the family was started in the first place and was taken that far with no regard to the anticipated signal of future failures all the way through. And if the many years were lived noting no family issues that could result in this, the question would be how worthwhile our ‘acute’ sudden reasons now that mandate on us to leave the family behind, whether by divorcing or choosing to migrate for work abroad, after this proclaimed years of stability. In many cases, it all rolls up to a hole in our understanding, control, and decision-making.

The United States has the lion share in divorce and separation worldwide, leading the list in the first rank, with 50% to 60% of children not having fathers, that is 1 in 3 children goes to bed at night without saying goodnight to his/her father; according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The trend is also worldwide. In Europe, for example, 14% of households with children are lone mother-headed, with UK only having 300,000 families than separate each year, 92% of which are lone mother-headed families, attributing to an overall number of 3 million and 160,000 of separated families in year 2012; 30% of this number never seen their fathers. This is according to UK Centre for Social Justice published report “Fractured Families” in June 2013. The rate of fatherless children is growing alarmingly worldwide, doubling since the 1960’s. Yet in front of this increase in phenomenon, we are here interested in daring to the destiny of these children raised up without fathers. What are the impacts? And what can be done to work around these implications? If you happen to be among those, with the above frightful statistical numbers, you are not alone.

At the first hit upon taking the father out of the picture, whether driven by divorce or physical separation, is the immediate absence of the Male Role Model, in Psychology terminology, from the household. The degree of impact of such loss depends on the age of the children at the time of separation, the younger the more devastating. And the impact does not only influence the children directly, but it continues to impact the mother as well, which in return impacts the children indirectly though their lives with her. In order to understand the impacts, let’s first briefly discuss what the Male Role Model does.

The male father existence in the same home represents many symbols. Male fathers tend to represent a challenge, to children and to mother. At the peak of any chaos inside the home, there would still be a minimum sort of order. The challenge of a father ties some order and discipline in the home. Male fathers tend to be playful, loud, life-matters talkers, and risk takers. Their presence takes the children to the extra mile of exposure to life. Male fathers represent the Security in the home, providing a backbone for children to go out and face life, to spend their times not worrying as they feel that there is a father would come to rescue in times of danger. The same feeling is fed to the mother, a panic mother would quickly transfer the same panic in her kids. For male children, the male role model is essential in establishing a model to look up to in formulating their personalities. From that model, the boy learns how to be a man. The attributes of an adult male role model represented above are necessary in formulating male children. For female children, the female feels secured by her father’s presence more than the boy. Her personality is fed more by his tenderness and kindness to her. The presence of the Male Role Model to the female kid gives her a frame of reference for her future husband or partner. She understands through this role model how a man should be. The father provides the mature emotional growth to the female and a complete paradigm for a future male partner. Without Male Role Model, according to research, males grow up tending to be more aggressive or too soft. They grow easily associative to bad habits and negative male role models found in friends or gangs. Females deprived from true male role model tend not to choose the correct male partner at the beginning of her romantic life. And after some failures, when she finally happens to meet a true man, she has a high chance of turning him down and being unable to give him back the true female role; she simply did not learn the true Male Role Model to understand how to deal with a real man.

No matter how great the mother is, a lone mother-headed family ultimately misses the Male role aspect. The absence of the male role model also impacts the female mother and influenced her conduct of upbringing her children negatively. Female Role Model tends to be soft, nurturing, gentle, and comforting. With the absence of the male role model, the balance of parenting and the even distribution of authority is lost. Accordingly, the mother can become too lenient towards her children that she loses control over them and fail to provide corrective actions when they misbehaves. Or, on the other hand of extreme, the anxious mother from knowing that she is weak in front of the responsibility of raising up her children on her own and aware of the solid aspect of losing the male role model, she attempts to play it herself; thus, jumps to the other extreme of being too protective, too resentful, and too anxious. Therefore, complicating the matter to its negative pole and ultimately masking out the soft nurturing that she should give as part of her Female Role Model. As no matter how hard the lone mother is trying to be both a mother and a father at the same time, the end result is a too soft helpless mother or too rigid, too resentful, too protective, too anxious mother; both results skew the upbringing of the kids.

Once Men Step Away from Co-Residence, the Transforming Power of Fatherhood Dissipates.

United Nations

No matter how convenience and ease communication technology availed today, once the man steps out of the household, a gap is existed. Once the father is at distance, the details of the day to day life is missed and his parental influence starts to fade away. He is no longer in control. And studies have shown that though the abundance of communication means nowadays, non-resident fathers bit by bit over duration of years lose the amount of communications than that at the beginning. At the start of separation, the father may see and call his children multiple times in the week; then, as the years pass, the amount shrinks. And the study confirms that even maintaining distant communication at best, it puts the father away from the fine details of his children’s day to day life, missing the whole point and lose the power. The core impact of the fatherless is essentially missing the Male Role Model, which spurs out the loss of many other things. This is the common impact among all the fatherless.

In due turn, the absence of the father from the household is associated with other impacts that fluctuates from child to another depending on other factors; be it genetics, luck, or other family members’ support. A core impact in this category is the Economic Impact on the family left behind, for those who hadn’t source of income other than the one that used to be provided by the father. Surprisingly, the factor of this economic stress sometimes also happens to those whose parents are not divorced and the father is an immigrant worker working abroad, not only the divorced parents. Either cases, an apart bread-winning father still sticking to financing his left behind family is detached from the very details of the family’s lifestyle than the case of being living within it and sensing when it’s below quality or excessive. Due to this absence of perspective, apart fathers financing their families develops other traits that yield economic stress. Father may start to grow suspicious to the mother’s control over the sum of money; accusing her of not properly managing it when it’s finished. On this developed sense of a ‘guilty mother’, the apart father becomes more reluctant to response and compensate with additional sum of money or an increase. Not sharing in the details of the family day to day lifestyle is also a factor that hinders the man’s perception of needs. Unlike the co-resident father, the apart father does not know what’s in the refrigerator, doesn’t share trips to supermarkets to conceive how prices versus needs are aligned. Missing such lifestyle details and its impact on the distant father’s perception of how his family is living day to day results in negligence to remedy or opens the room of suspicions that something is wrong with the mother’s mismanagement of money or children wanting more more to misuse it…etc. Such concerns yield to apart fathers’ resentment to supply more money while it’s really needed. This is the ugly case of fathers sticking to financing the left behind family. The other case is the opposite extreme. Sometimes the distant father feels guilty for leaving the family behind; and if he is financially capable, he tends to wrongly compensate for his absence by unreasonable supply of money, thinking that he is compensating his family for his apartness or fulfilling the objective of working abroad. The case is better visualized by the case of fathers taking the family decision to immigrate for abroad labor for the objective of enhancing the family’s financial status. The unreasonable supply of large amount of money has it’s own drawbacks with lack of accountability. Children, especially adolescence, get spoiled by the money since it is supplied without the accountable male role model to monitor and track. Children with this lack of father’s power in supervising closely can either lead them to misuse the money in wrong doings or grow spoiled irresponsibly. As Aristotle says, supplying children with good minds is necessary for supplying them with money. Therefore, financing the family while being away, which is the good scenario, still holds with it some concerns. The other scenario, the bad one, is when the separation of the father comes with it a cut of financial support, a case better seen in the context of divorce. In such cases when the family does not have other channels of financial support, the family suffers the most. This is represented in high rate of not completing education, degraded standard of living and poor healthcare. In such condition, some helpless mothers resort to painful mean of gaining money that even add up to children’s misery. Mothers may resort to taking on multiple jobs throughout the day, depriving her from spending quality time with her children and leaving her emotionally and psychologically wrecked by the end of the day. Some other mothers resort to marriages to other men for the sake of availing a male breadwinner to provide food and shelter to her children. In such cases, often these marriages are not good ones that contribute to overall wellbeing of the family and is often abusive to the sort. Moreover, it entails psychological impacts on the children be seeing the mother rebonding with a man other than their father and leaves them a sense of humiliation by getting money from a man not their father. According to statistics, women resolving to marrying other men for the sake of securing a channel of financial support, usually ends up in failure of marriage after short period of time. A percentage of such women re-attempt subsequent marriages for the same reasons; leaving out enormous psychological impacts on children.

Some findings of researches in psychology, sociology, and cognitive sciences associate various mental, psychological, and physical impacts of the fatherless. Throughout this writing, I focused on the two stone wrecking negative influences, the male role model absence and the economic implications, for I believed them to be the salient attributes in almost all fractured families and believed to be the main losses that flood all the rest of damages, that re reported by researches. For the sake of completion, I will enumerate them here. Fatherless children are 30% to 40% more prone to develop abusive use of drugs, get attached to the wrong people, suffer chronic stress and depression, develop anti-social habits and challenges in dealing with peers, see the world as a hostile place fearing to deal with it. They also may suffer degraded performance in school and more prone to criminal acts. The researches here are statistical in the sense of pointing out the high potential based on group studies rather than theorizing consequences; it’s just these dispositions are more exposed to fatherless children. Like I said, a fact that discouraged me from overanalyzing these researches in this writing and compelled me to just focus on the two present implications that seemed common across such incidents and seemed to make more sense as consequences.

To that end, we shall not always try to find an exact revert to such unfortunate cases rather to think of ways to deal with actual challenge presented. Dealing with the challenge for those who destined to miss the complete unity of a family falls equally on the mother and the children when they grow up. The lone family headed mother should focus on availing a close male role model for her children. If she has the privilege of being part of a bigger family, she should foster caregiving and interaction between her children and male relatives in her family,. If the mother is unfortunate to be not part of a bigger family, availing male teacher can provide a sort of male role model presented to her children in the least sense. Teachers are in great position to act like one since children in their early age look up to them and respect them, which are again attitudes she has to implant in them throughout the process. Under the inevitable consequences, the mother should start a lifetime journey of stirring up her children realization of the situation and consequences they have been put into with mutual responsibilities on both sides. In normal context, parents tend to conceal life’s challenges from their kids so that they enjoy comfortable cheerful childhood, but in the case of fractured family, when it comes to choosing between the chocolate bar and the bread; then, the bread should precede. Choosing to transfer the real situation with its challenges progressive as the children grow and the required attitudes towards it becomes a matter of life. Damaged lives are resultant from lack of awareness rather than its existence. In nurturing children with the difficult situation they had been put into, it helps lessen the drawbacks, and most importantly, sets the stage to the second phase of the process, which is the responsibility on the children when they grow up. This nurtured awareness throughout the years helps prepare them to amend what they have missed for themselves when they grow stronger. When children safely grow to age of adulthood and strength aware and responsible, they can humanily stand for themselves. No matter how tough their quality of life was due to economic sparsity or family support, they can teach themselves, work for themselves, mature themselves, associate with good people, and make their own future. Only in prudent growth of awareness lies nurtured mentality that can make over the whole human who suffered. The history is full of people who just did so. Isaac Newton was born and never seen his father as he died 3 months before his birth. His mother remarried to another man, whom Newton hated and always condemned his mother for marrying him, leaving him at the custody of his grandmother. Newton was reported by psychologists to have suffered what’s called Asperer Syndrome, which is a type of Autism characterized by difficulties in social interactions and non-verbal communication. He was a victim of family disturbances, yet he challenges himself to competing with his school peers that he become the top-ranked student. It is worth noting also that his mother has taken him out of school, wanting to make him a farmer, yet his school master has convinced her to let him continue his education. Such is an example of a role others may play in the lives of the deprived, if we can find ones to ourselves. Thomas Edison, while he did not suffer family disintegration in the sense discussed in this writing, he had an non-interactive father who did not participate in his upbringing, so it’s still relevant to include him as a model for he was a produce of his mother alone. He only attended formal schooling for 3 months and then his mother has taken the burden of truly educating him at home. Edison later recalled, saying in his own words “My mother is the maker of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” Such as the heroic role of a mother in making successful men on her own. And in our contemporary time, Barack Obama, the president of the U.S. His parents divorced when he was 3 years old and since which he only saw his father only once at the age of 10. He only lived with his mother for 3 years; then, spent his entire early life at the custody of his grandparents. With the aid of scholarships, he was able to continue his schooling and join Columbia College majoring in Political Science. In his writings and talks, Obama talked that in a period of his teenage years, he used alcohol and cocaine to “push questions of who I am out of my mind” and that he was a member of a gang smoking marijuana.

While the family is comfy backbone, the role of the mother in lessening devastation by conscious endeavor, like Edison’s mother, could make a difference. Then, to our utmost certainty, one can start out making himself without blaming conditions. Life’s conditions may control making the road more difficult or more relaxing, but it’s us who can control choosing the road and traversing it against all odds.

Loss & Sustain

 

 على الأنسان فاقد الشئ أن يستعين بما يملك لتعويض ما فقد. و أن يتفادى فى ذلك البحث عن مثليه ما فقد فيما لم يفقد … حتى يتسنى له العيش فى رضا و هناء. فأن الفقدان حتميه فى هذه الحياه… و لكن دائما ما يبقى شئ لم نفقد

Translation

For the one who lost a thing is to borrow from what’s still owned to compensate for what was lost., And in doing this, to avoid the search for an identicality between what was lost and what’s not … So that one can live in bliss and satisfaction. For loss is inevitable in this life … But there remains always something we did not lose.

A Philosopher’s Life – Aristotle

Aristotle is one the ancient Greek philosophers whose philosophy and writings have influenced Western philosophy and Islamic philosophy. To many philosophers, he is just known as “The Philosopher.” Dante titled him with the “master of those who know.” Darwin testified to his huge contribution of thought by saying “Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle.”

Aristotle was born in Macedonia 384 B.C in a small town called Stagira. What survived from Aristotle’s work to us accounts for 1,o00,000 (one million) word on many subjects such as metaphysics, biology, zoology, ethics, physics, psychology, logic. This massive amount of survived work of Aristotle accounts only to one third of what he actually produced; denoting how active and how productive thinker he was. Aristotle’s father, Nichomachus, was a physician and was the private one to the king of Macedonia that time. His father’s profession seems to influence the interest of Aristotle, which appears in his massive works for biology and natural science; however, he didn’t show specific interest in being a doctor or study medicine like his father. There is no record to us about Aristotle’s early childhood, however, his path in life can be determining. Being a son of a doctor to the royal family, Aristotle was educated as an aristocratic member. This was reflected in the way he used to dress and how he was well dressing his hair. He was the student of Plato, and thus in the philosophy chain, he is the grandson of Socrates. At the age of seventeen, he was sent to Athens to study in Plato’s Academy, where he remained there for 20 years. When Plato died, Speusippus, Plato’s nephew, became the head of the academy and Aristotle left the academy and Athens to Asia Minor, where he remained there for about 3 years and continued his researches and work he used to do in Plato’s academy. He then moved from Asia Minor to Lesbos after the death of his host and remained there for another 2 years.

While in Lesbos, Aristotle had his first marriage, to Pythias, and from her, he had a daughter, also named Pythias. He was then invited back by the King of Macedonia to return back and serve as the private tutor to his son. Aristotle accepted the invitation and went back to his hometown after all these years… to be the teacher of Alexander the Great, 13 years old by then. The period Aristotle stayed in his hometown as the teacher of the king’s son remains unknown yet around 5 years he returned back to Athens again and established his own academy, the Lyceum. During this period, his wife died and later he developed a relationship with Herpyllis, a native Stagira woman like him. His exact relation to her is disputable, some historians anticipate that she was his servant, some says she was a private relationship, and some says she was later his second wife… The exact is non-confirmed. However, he had a son from her, Nichomachus, named after Aristotle’s father, which was a tradition for ancient Greek.

Aristotle, though an eminent student of Plato and though the long years of their attachment, he differed a lot from him; their relationship was something different from Plato’s relation to his teacher Socrates. Aristotle maintained his respect to Plato yet his disagreement to some of his thoughts was clear. Little is known about the specifics of their relationship, but Aristotle’s dissent from Plato’s school of thought was evident in his writings and teaching. Aristotle himself would once comment “Plato is dear to me only after knowledge being in the first place. I would favor knowledge and truth above all.” The pupil preserves the gratitude for that of teacher yet implicitly states that he would disagree with his teacher in so long that knowledge is always favored over people. While in Athens, Alexander the great died and the democratic Athens grew uncomfortable with Macedonians, seeing them as invaders. Aristotle’s fearing that he would face the same fate of Socrates, who was executed in the same town, he chose to abandon Athens saying that he won’t allow Athenians to commit “a second sin against Philosophy.” He retired to Chalcis, where he remained there until he died.

Aristotle feeling that death is coming onto him, he left a Will, which survived till now. His Will carried some provisions to family members and friends. Aristotle’s will shows some of his social dynamics. He willed for his daughter to be taken care of until he marries to a person he named. He also designated someone to take care of them until his son arrives at a suitable age (I omitted names of those people as irrelevant). He also willed that his first wife’s bones be transferred and buried beside him in the grave, which is a wish his wife wanted and he fulfilled it for her.

From the life of Aristotle, it can be seen that his entire life was invested in knowledge and philosophy more than anything else. Since his early age of 17, he was dedicated to knowledge and production during his lengthy stay with Plato. After that, he spent his entire effort to his academy and continued work. His academy conducted massive researched and had the largest collection of antiquity writings, to be the first one to contain one. Some situations in his life projected him as someone committed to his line of thought and courageous to go on with what he believed aligned with truth. They also showed how respectable he was. He stayed with Plato for 20 years yet we still see the striking differences between both. He was a faithful and compassionate to others, where after all the years, he did not forget his wife’s wish to be buried beside him. He was a caring father who accounted for their proper living after him and arranged everything for their life. He also accounted for his second woman and willed for her a good living in the town where he died and if she wanted to return back to Stagira, her origin, he willed that she can have his father’s home and willed that the executor of his will to furnish the house with the proper furniture. His will also entailed accounts for his servants and slaves. He was a systematic and highly analytical person, and that’s clear from his writings. Though had an aristocratic background, he was nurtured in knowledge and spent the entire life after it. Aristotle died at the age of 63, relatively young age at that time in history.