THE PRINCIPLE OF NATURE
Paradigm and Mandate
Not that type of nature. Not the natural world—though that too. But the nature of things. The way things are. And the way things can be, behave and do behave. Everything and everyone does have some nature, some way of being. This nature seems part of what we are and how we are made, and the circumstance of our birth and upbringing and all things which make us, us. The point is, it is silly to expect us to be or behave too differently from what we are. Certainly, the more sentient beings like us might choose to exercise some fortitude and will to bend some seeming degrees from our inherent nature and towards someone better than we imagine we might be. But still, that is just us behaving according to the nature of our more capable sentient minds. That is still only us living according to our nature. To even such seeming smart ones as us there’s little chance getting past what and who we are.
There is some nature in inanimate objects, too. A mountain has physical and chemical characteristics which contribute to what it is. And as active upon the earth we can rely on these characteristics—this nature—to inform us what to expect when encountering a mountain; such as its height, the steep sides, that there is a bottom and a top and canyons and gullies and mountain animals and wind and cold and maybe snow at seasonable times. Remembering and acknowledging these facts allows us to deal with a mountain in accordance with its nature. Failure to account for such things is done at our own peril and risk.
And my companions have their own natures, too. My family, friends, and coworkers. So, I will ask myself: what are their natures? What of my wife? How should I expect her to be and behave? Don’t I know her so well? Should anything surprise me now about her after thirty-two years? And what about my daughter? Has she not been under my roof every day of her life yet? Is there possibly anything of consequence about her basic behavior which I cannot possibly already know? And the team at work…are they not my team? Good men and women everyone. Not without fault, yet fully capable and seemingly full of desire to work well and be good every day. And so too the larger community at the office where I work and the city where I live. And the country which is my home, and the species of which I am a member; I know something about the nature of all of these. I am very well informed about what to expect from each—both individual and collective souls.
And then there is me…the one I should know best. A simple question is “am I honest with myself about my own nature?” Am I objective about who I am? What catalogue have I made about my qualities and my failings? Do I have some idea about what to expect of myself and from myself? What is my nature? When I can nearly grasp that—then perhaps I will have nearly arrived.
The way things are likely to be
Our personal nature is our most visible evidence that our will is never fully free: as how many forces of my personal being—my interest, my bias, my education, my want and especially my Biology—do conspire to steer my way? I am forever giving heed to the demands of my constitution, and can never quite say no to the man who I really am.
My nature is...
The footsteps I must still take,
While fooling myself into thinking
That my footsteps are my own
Likewise, do you also acquiesce to your own nature, now and yesterday, and tomorrow, too! Becoming always just what you are, or what you must next be because of just what you now are. Never something else. Never what you are not, and by extension, cannot become.
And so, I will begin each day with a brief catalogue of my own character and capacity to live. And I will think also of those with whom I should today engage, and of their character and nature. And I will playact for a moment in the circumstances of today's living, and remind myself what I should expect of each place and event—for circumstance and things have their natures too—and in this way, become better prepared for what may likely be my life today; prepared, warned and tempered by the recognition, understanding and acceptance of our natures, and of the way things are likely to be, when our lives meet, and we come together to live.
And in this way, I live a more deliberate and honest life. Not a life of resignation—though there is some of that as well—but of recognition, and of the opportunity to react in our own way—and give way in our own way—and live well, always...each, in our own way.