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Aesthetic and Effortless


Life is aesthetic and effortless. We have become culturally blind.
Humberto Maturana

Science has held onto the belief that our minds are predispose to negative thinking. We are a society of problems rewarding problems-solvers. What would the world be like if the scientific view was, "Love is the grounding of our existence as humans and is the basic emotioning in our systemic identity as human beings?" Humberto Maturana

 The education curriculum would focus on self-worth and contributing to others. It may focus on practical skills of living a successful financial life, how to create and sustain relationships as well as an appreciation of a simple meal. One could say it may focus on the golden rule, "do unto others, and you would have them do to you."

In a recent profile of the writer Toni Morrison, she said we have gone from becoming American citizens to American consumers to American taxpayers.  Each category is fraught with difficulty.

What if instead of allowing ourselves to be categorized by media, advertising, and government we learn about the stages of adulthood: Early Adulthood (ages 22–34), Early Middle Age (ages 35–44), Late Middle Age (ages 45–64), and Late Adulthood (ages 65 and older), we learn stability and to accept aging with grace.

The work of Chilean scientist Humberto Maturana is concerned with the biology of cognition. He has demonstrated that love is the true nature of human beings and the preoccupation with negativity is culture based. What are the implications of love as the system of thinking on our society?

I look at my own life in the early, middle, and late middle age, I had a bushel of problems. I was overweight, financially bankrupt, full of self-loathing, my mind was overwhelmed by trying to  solve what I believed were disabling issues.

Despite the darkness of my existence I found the appreciation of art: opera, painting, sculpture, travel, movies, and theater and of sharing these things with others. Along with all my problems, there was room in my mind for mystery, and creativity, for this I am grateful.

I wasted so many years in traditional Western medicine, trying to resolve physical and mental "conditions" that were my response to the judgmental culture. I was forced to create an imaginary life of parasocial relationships, one-sided romances where the other person didn't even know I existed. Here is where I found comfort and ease, yet this was delusion. It is a fine line between creativity and magical thinking. I crossed that line with intensity, passion, and desire.

I was educated at the best schools, achieved a MA in Whole Systems Design, which opened my mind to the world of Maturana, which states: "Love enables creativity, and love expands intelligence." 

The happenstance of my conditioning was the lack of love. Without it being self-generated, I created aberrant behaviors around food, sex, and relationships, all of which kept me in darkness and mental activity that required deliberation and control and involved a sense of effort and overcoming resistance. Life was hard. I remember being sixty-years-old and crying in the bathroom at the office because my work had been criticized. I had a thirty-five-year career filled with experiences like this.

Now, well into my late adulthood, life has become aesthetic and effortless. The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has, strangely, enforced this experience.  All extraneous activity, thoughts, and spending disappeared. My life became small and simple, full of "telephone marathons" with friends and family near and far, long walks wearing a mask, and having my groceries delivered (a luxury). Many of the world's finest museums have put their collections online, and the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts an opera each night.

Now, in life, I experience the aesthetic and cultural beauty, for it is a choice; one must be willing to change perspective and live in love. Are you willing?



DevonB has reacted to this post.

Dear Madeline,

Thank you so much for this writing!  The question you address ("What are the implications of love as the system of thinking on our society?") is far-reaching and important, using Maturana's claim as a point of departure ("Life is aesthetic and effortless. We have become culturally blind."). You have a deep feeling for beauty and aesthetics, and a strong intuition that our culture's negativity bias underlies a great deal of suffering and emotional defeat.  I agree with this wholeheartedly, and also wonder how Maturana's philosophy deals with life-on-the-ground, which is, in truth,  far from "effortless" and encompasses a multitude of experiences we would be hard-pressed to describe as merely "aesthetic" (concerned with beauty).  If you'd care to elaborate, I'd love to know more about how this idealistic perspective jibes with your lived experience? When a person's feeling blue, lost, broken, confused, ugly, disappointed, lonely, or filled with outrage -- for example -- how does Maturana's philosophy address that?  Can you enlighten me?

I appreciate your deep contributions to The Seekers Forum tremendously, and hope to continue this conversation.  

Have a beautiful weekend,

Mark : )