An unexamined life

is not worth living – or so Plato once said, (actually  quoting an earlier speech by Socrates).

Over ten years ago, my brother used to say that to me, usually when he discovered the tell-tale Red magazine lying on my sofa.  My magazine days are long gone now, but a few days ago I remembered the quote, wondered who said it and what on earth it actually meant.  I think at the time, I thought I was just being accused of being frivolous, but now I recognise the same behaviour in most of our lives – achieved with or without the help of a glossy publication.  Certainly, it is not a helpful thing  to live without thinking, but is it always wrong?

Sometimes, life is best not looked at too long, with its cares, pains and fears.  There are frequent moments when I just want to dive into a mindless book, step into another world and forget about the real one.  I think Facebook is the epitome of that – the place to re-present our experiences, or just live through the seemingly more successful lives of others.  If we stop after half an hour of browsing, and actually take stock, has that tIime spent following the pieced together lives of other people done us any good whatsoever?  I usually log off feeling inadequate, wondering why I don’t bake or craft with my children, or take constant selfies to prove I’ve actually left the house.  I don’t really have that much of a problem with social media, because I don’t have a problem with escaping from my own head and peering into someone else’s.

Yes, it is beneficial to live deliberately, and consider our choices or actions.  But, if we can’t face looking at ourselves right now, I believe that the best thing to do is to help our neighbour.  When I am feeling low, there is something in my head which is often saying, ‘help someone’, because I must subconsciously know that I need to stop examining my own life, and walk into someone else’s.  So step aside Socrates, I’ve re-phrased you – ‘a life of putting others above yourself is definitely worth living.’  Examined or not.

2 thoughts on “An unexamined life

  1. Ruth – I’m looking forward to the time when the ‘rooms’ come together to make a ‘residence’ holding all the wonderfully thought provoking ‘bricks’ you share from time to time. Thank you. Merrill

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