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May 3, 2021

And here is what I’ve learned about life so far

The highway called life is crowded, filled with small and smallish things, with accidents, happenings, talks, decisions, encounters - the meaning of each is known, while the meaning of them together is almost always elusive. I wonder – why is this and that, what am I supposed to learn from this conversation, that little drama? This one thought or that one observation, little insights and many errors, conclusions, illusions, allusions. Is this the curriculum? Who designed it? What am I supposed to learn from all that?

You always learn about people. Their thoughts and actions, quirks, and gifts – the world of other people is absolutely inexhaustible and unpredictable. Yes, you see patterns eventually. But it is also a universe consisting of multiple huge worlds, absolutely beautiful in their uniqueness. Every person is a planet, a rich, juicy, exquisitely painted picture of the entire visible universe that is different from any the next person possesses. Only rarely do I get to see this, maybe a couple times a year. I look at faces of people around me and hear many gentle echoes of their worlds subtly talking to each other. This is the music of the spheres, as nuanced and as inexhaustible as a galaxy. I begin to feel what the ancient Greeks meant by agape. The Greeks knew the many forms of love: eros, philia, ludus, agape, pragma, philautia, storge, mania. This one is agape. It is when I can marvel about many others, feel their pain and joy – all at the same time; when I can hum along the great symphony of the human multiverse. Wow, this is how he thinks, that is how she sees the world. People wear their scars like badges of honor, learning, striving, figuring things out, and yet hopelessly lost, just like me. Just like me and so not like me.

The curriculum is also about yourself. You learn your limits and sources of strength, your triggers, pet peeves - from living. We are not born with knowledge of ourselves. The self is a subject of discovery, just like the rest of the world. Children know very little about themselves – this knowledge is panned like gold flecks from a river bed, with about the same dreadful efficiency. The nooks and crannies of one’s soul are as infinite as the worlds of other people. The smells of childhood and the colored pictures of the life story, regrets and memories, melodies and desires – all these can come down as an avalanche, only to get completely still the very next moment. “Oh, this is how this thing works” – you think about yourself, every time surprised at the obvious. How could you live with yourself for that many years, and not know something very basic about your own self? Who knows, who cares, who gives. Life is like travel; the whole point is to find something you did not know was there. Perhaps if you don’t learn anything new about other people and about yourself, it is time to check your pulse and see if you’re still alive.

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