Network of Pine branches against a blue sky

Life as adjustments in meaning

Imagining life as this intersecting network of all the lines of meaning established between us – all the places where things meet and judgements are made over the social, cultural, economic or deeply personal elements of any existence – how are we ever to find the right balance within it all? The mind may happily assign labels and values to everything it sees, but to what extent is that picture it’s creating truly real?

Sometimes it just seems we’re comparing things that cannot be compared in this impossible conversation that never quite touches reality. As if, looking from all these angles, we’re not yet bringing things together with an overarching meaning that actually works. All our perspectives, more often than not, jutting up against each other in an impasse we cannot resolve.

Especially now we’re drifting into such a personal sense of life’s meaning: each person developing their own culture, their own value systems and priorities, their own idea of what’s right or best. How often are we really talking about the same things on the same terms? Are we “right” to shut down anyone not seeing things as we are? Where does it lead?

There seem so many times where the messages we receive about something’s worth stack up strangely against how we might feel about its real value. Times we’re left with the jarring dissonance of our views being misunderstood, undervalued or cast aside by those we’re with. Say, over the environment, the balance of the social with the economic, the value of self, or any number of other valid concerns.

It pervades every conversation: words are spoken and the assumptions beneath them – the nuanced shades of tone or subtle assessments of any given item’s value – speak volumes about how things are seen, treated, admired or dismissed. Listening, all you might hear is the discordant jangling of things that aren’t being thought through or valued rightly within the everyday conversation of modern society.

Maybe it’s something we just have to live with: the thinking that lives in the systems surrounding us filtering into the minds of those living within them. What choice do we have? Many ideas don’t seem open for renegotiation. We might look for our meaning or worth in how we’re reflected in the eyes of society, culture or the minds of our peers, but I’m not entirely sure those are set up to value things fairly.

Seeing life as a web of the personal “meeting” all that’s around it – these inherited systems, ideas and judgements of anything’s worth, power or consequence – might we not simply drift toward those sharing our views, speaking less and less to those who think differently, until our thinking becomes unchallenged? Living in our own world, our own version of reality, where meanings are agreed upon.

If the self, the mind, is our way of understanding society and where we stand, how are we to balance our own sense of worth, value or potential with all these ideas that are hemming us in?

Notes and References:

If environment shapes us…
Seeing what things mean
Threads, becoming a united whole
Deepening understanding
Working through mind & society
Is there any end to the power of thought?
The struggle with being alive

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