I. 1. These Boots Are Made for Walking…

 

Immediately after having been pulled out of the womb we manifest our first instinct as humans – to breathe. We suck in our first gulp of air from the new world we have been introduced into. With this we start our life journey: the complicated and exciting interrelation with our environment.

At first, of course, we don’t know how to deal with it. All we rely on is our instincts. Yet with every passing day we subconsciously gain the experience necessary for our survival. Soon there comes the time when we, having sensed hunger, cry not only due to our instinct, but because of the sparkle of discovery that we can influence the environment. The conditional reflex that makes us cry when hungry is being gradually substituted by the decision to express hunger through crying because this turns out to be the most efficient way of being duly fed.

For most of us this actually could be our very first decision. It is an easy one indeed, since hunger and the ability of the environment to satisfy it are two of the few circumstances we have to deal with. Nevertheless its success charges us with the courage that we can somehow manipulate the environment according to our needs.

A few million heartbeats later we start feeling the inner necessity of expanding our physical territory. At first we turn on our sides, then we crawl, until we finally figure out that the best way to achieve our goal is to walk on our feet. What has occurred within us is no more and no less than the natural instinct to explore our surroundings in order to be able to get more out of them. This instinct is an inner circumstance, meant to push further our development as humans. As it turns out though, we haven’t had the slightest clue of a major obstacle: the earth’s gravity. What has been so far just a fact (“Wow! My rattle toy fell on the floor!”) transforms itself into an extremely important outer circumstance, occupying a top position on the list “Characteristics of the Environment I Shouldn’t Forget About.”

But things don’t stop here.

The revelation of gravity not only broadens our understanding of the environment but also transmits new information about ourselves. By evaluating gravity through our continuous trials and failures we are hit by the discovery of our weakness and unpreparedness. The broadened perception of the environment has fired back. The sense of our poor ability to keep balance and stand on our feet becomes a new, shocking part of our semi-conscious, semi-instinctive self-perception. Being obviously relevant to our intention to start walking, it appropriates the quality of a new inner circumstance, which challenges our ambition. The looming conflict strikes us with a choice: should we give up or keep trying? At the end our urge to walk wins over. Long before succeeding, our undeveloped, instinctive selves line up the contradicting circumstances in another, inner hierarchy: the sense of our weakness gives way to the superior sense of the necessity to win over a certain quality of the environment, which has so far held us back. We walk away from our first major encounter with our surroundings with deeper knowledge about the world, and about ourselves.

This knowledge is our perpetually evolving general perception of reality. Gained by testing both the nature outside of, and within us, it represents an interactive combination of our perception of the environment and our perception of ourselves. Each of these halves is built by a hierarchy of circumstances, which changes continuously due to the degree each circumstance affects our intentions at any moment. For instance, once we have started walking without any help and stand firm on our feet, it’s a matter of days for us to completely forget about gravity – the circumstance that has occupied a top position in our perception of the environment for quite a while.

As we get older, our knowledge increases along with our needs. Our growing necessities constantly meet new obstacles, which we arrange into an ever changing hierarchy of outer circumstances. The path to overcoming them elicits from us unsuspected qualities. The courage and self-confidence gained from this process stimulate the eagerness to pursue new challenges, thus paving the way to discovering and developing our own nature even further.

Our self-knowledge doesn’t gain less if we occasionally give up under the pressure from the environment. However, this kind of self-knowledge often suggests lower self-confidence and could be the basis for developing inner crises and complexes.

The development of our general perception of reality determines our progress as human beings throughout our lives. It is one of the fundamental features of our individuality.

In order to get the full picture of how our general perception of reality works and explore the factors determining its development we must first examine each of its components separately.

© 2008 Peter Budevski

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