Socrates left us with this gem, “the unexamined life is not worth living”. As one who spends a lot of time living, reliving and imagining in my head, I concur.
I was pondering this nagging thought when it occurred to me that there is an antecedent, “the perpetually examined life becomes quite tedious and the examiner, a bore”. Sometimes life should just be lived, and not examined.
The commonality of both periodic examination and relentless examination is the ‘I’. And therein lies the trap. A periodic look at ‘I’ in the context of ‘we’, ‘they’, ‘us’, and ‘them’ is healthy. How is my life serving, contributing, helping, inspiring, supporting those near, those I love, those I have compassion for, and those I don’t know or may never know? To answer, affirm, commit and move forward is the objective.
When the periodic examination becomes interminable fixation all that exists is ‘i’, not even ‘I’. This is no longer examination it is myopic fictional narrative lacking larger context. When all there is is self, the self that exists is prone to self-doubt, self-pity, fear, and selfishness. What about me? What about ‘i’? There is nothing to affirm or commit to other than the ever more myopic ‘i’.
The Socratic life to be examined was the life exposed and unfolded, not life enclosed. Life in context of others, and nature, and history, and as prologue to what can be. The Ancient one was telling us to look inward, understand, and then live outwardly with all gusto. Live with the spirit of the divine being that is each of us.
Examine yes, and then move one from the examination to the act of living life.