The Composition of Our Lives

More than a creative written work, the word composition reminds me of a mixture of ingredients, as in Chemistry. With that meaning in mind, I have entitled this post as “the composition of our lives.” However, that shouldn’t give you the impression that this post is about the chemical composition of our lives(what does that mean anyway?). Not at all! Rather this is only a humble attempt to present my analysis of what constitutes our lives. In other words, at the end of our lives, when we look back, what are the ingredients that make up our lives? The list I am going to give might not resonate with that of your’s, as you might have your own list, and that’s fair.

Before I present my list, I should share with you the concept of emergence. That concept will help in making more sense of my list. Christian Smith in his book What is a Person? notes: “Emergence involves the following: First, two or more entities that exist at a “lower” level interact or combine. Second, that interaction or combination serves as the basis of some new, real entity that has existence at a “higher” level. Third, the existence of the new higher-level entity is fully dependent upon the two or more lower-level entities interacting or combining, as they could not exist without doing so. Fourth, the new, higher-level entity nevertheless possesses characteristic qualities (e.g., structures, qualities, capacities, textures, mechanisms) that cannot be reduced to those of the lower-level entities that gave rise to the new entity possessing them” (26). When these four things happen, Smith considers emergence to have happened. The example that he provides is that of water (H20). Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) combine to form a new thing, water, that is quite unlike either H or O. The physical and chemical characteristics of water are quite different from that of it’s constituent ingredients. Anyway, the whole point in presenting this concept and elaborate quote is to say that the three ingredients that I am going to present combine or interact and result in the emergence of life – not in the biological sense, but in the sense of a lived life. 

After all that hype, here’s my list: experiments, experiences, and memories. These three aspects are correlative, and they mutually shape and modify one another, and make up our lives. If we consider our lives to constitute the correlative wheel of experiments, experiences, and memories, then it is possible that at times one of these aspects might function as a hub and influences the other two. Some other times another aspect might take the position of the hub and influence the other two aspects of the correlative wheel of life. Before I lose you, let me explain: For instance, at the age of ninety, memories may serve as the hub of the correlative wheel of our lives. Similarly during childhood, experiments could serve as the hub. This is all hypothetical, but the point that I am trying to make is that, although all the three aspects make up our lives, one might play a major role at one particular point of time. Without any hint of doubt, however, all the three of them keep operating throughout our lives.  At this point, one may ask, aren’t experiments not experiences, and wouldn’t experiments and experiences form memories? The answer is: yes, they are and they will, yet they are not replaceable with one another. They are almost like the three forms that water can take: ice, water, and water vapor. To conclude, the three aspects – experiments, experiences, and memories – combine or interact and constitute our lives.  

About Chaitanya Motupalli

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