At age eleven when my family moved to Minnesota my career path changed from Monseigneur to trapper. A happy condition of pre-pubescent life is the carefree disregard of practicality. In certain cases this neglect of practical realities can continue beyond the pale of peach fuzz and continue onto horizons yet to come. I say this now realizing it was not practical and certainly not wise to announce at age fourteen my desire to confront the world as a poet. Father had different hopes. Hearing his young son declare a future of Poesy was the same as hearing a statement of; well you know what so I needn’t say it. Dad and mother had my future as a Doctor (MD) or a Lawyer. I doubt poet ever crossed their minds. If dad was the type he’d have gone on a binge, but instead avoided eye contact for months. Actually, not until I proclaimed a career path going to Psychiatry did dad perk up. He, my mother, and pretty much anyone in Hoyt Lakes who had least knowledge of me were in unanimous accord that with a mind squirrely as mind psychiatry was, so to speak, a no brainer.

A great thing about going psychiatric was no one (including me) could get clever with it and ask what particular kind of nut bar specialist I planned to be. Psychiatry was so high an aim it went unchallenged same as if I were to have said Nuclear Physics, in my case a worthy goal even more unattainable than being a head shrink. More importantly I had an answer for the career choice question that popped up often as being asked what sports I played and the girlfriend question. I found, with considerable enjoyment, that psychiatry caused an uneasy silence every time it was mentioned aloud. It was like saying I was going into leprosy. People steered away. Only once did a challenge almost upset the placidity of psychiatric fantasy. Someone asked if I didn’t first have to become a Medical Doctor. That was not only true, but it struck directly to the Achilles heel of my delusion with the faint causing sensation of seeing an operating room awash with blood. I stumbled (this is most apt) onto a response by turning to the least blood prone part of the body I knew, feet. Now, about Podiatry I knew only that mother had gone to a foot doctor in our Chicago days. In emergency need that fact was my rescue allowing me to claim MD status as a Podiatrist and then move to Psychiatrist. I had my patients covered head to foot.

The review of early career paths is given as fair warning so you’ll know before a serious word is typed that I’m anything but a sure course to consider when it comes to weighty matters. But, at the same time I don’t think anyone is unable to consider life’s serious questions. Some may have more experience and be better qualified in that sense, but we’re all in the pool (shallow end or deep) and should be able to have a go. In fact, I think, people with credentials are often those who are less in the know. If you want to know how a business is run the secretary usually has the full score because the boss is too busy with other things.

Anyway, being a light thinker prone to the frivolous and to accidental understandings I see no impediment whatever to making a fool of myself by toe dabbling in deep philosophy for which I have to training or background beyond that of planetary gravity. To keep things simple (the only way I can cope with them) I’ll say human life has two areas Being and Self. A Human Being wants to be or exist. The right to be is basic and common to all, but it is also individualistic in that Beings are not identical and exist with differing potentials and abilities. Some of us are shorter or faster, etc. In life’s game this gives an advantage or not depending on what’s needed. All beings want to be. Those that are sometimes called lesser beings are the ones that do not question their existence or being. A moose does not wake up full of worry about how good a moose it is. It goes about the business of being a moose as well as it can. It knows what it is so it knows how to be. A lot of us higher beings should be so favored.

The other part of the human equation is self or identity. We like to think we is the us we think we are, but the self-side of being human is full of learned and passed on elements. The language you learn as a child helps shape how your mind puts pieces together. The culture that nurtures you might respect your individuality or punish you for it. The society that surrounds you may be loose or rigid, might segregate or integrate, may observe many or few gender roles, etc. It is the learned stuff of society and culture that makes the self a person thinks they are. The constructed self can be hostile toward being because it has no control over that. A whole lot of societies and cultures wage active war on Being by imposing every form of rule and constraint they can think of to control relationships, friendships, and human interactions of all sorts. The goal of self is often imposed from outside, so I call it the “Do It Our Way” model of being human and it is not always very human.

I know, I left out the spiritual side. Since I don’t know what it is I put it with Being. Problem solved. Some will say I err by leaving out religion. OK, I err, but in many instances the aim of a person’s religious life is no more than hoping to save their own ass from  damnation, so I put that under Self, right next to selfish.