What Does It Mean to Be Human?

We were designed to do a lot of things: to change diapers, to sketch lousy drawings, and to land on the moon. But more than that, we are sentient beings with anger and despair, who often question the reason of our existence and the unknown post-death world.

This post is not a lecture about how our brains work—it rather tries to humble us down, contending that even our cherished logic and rationale sometimes need to admit that several emotions and sentiments can eat them alive. A lot of unparalleled events will bring humans to their lessons, readied to continue the journey and get to the next stage in the game of life.

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1. To fall in love and to get hurt afterwards

Being mortal means seeking for comfort from another mortal, to tell each other that even in this short period of life we are big enough to care about another being—to let them know that everything’s going to be okay because you will always be watching their back. It means treasuring the most important people in your life, sometimes by asking their hand in a marriage or adopting them as your child. Despite its compelling beauty, investing a big portion of feelings into another human being also means risking them to get deeply, devastatingly hurt. To find out that the man you grow fonder for every day loves someone else, for example, to see your son in such a big pain after that car crush, or worse—to let death take them away. It hurts. It hurts more than what your heart is capable of handling.

2. To try hard forgetting traumas and pains

One of my favorite quotes from Murakami’s 1Q84: “Life is a battle of contrasting memories.” Happy memories, I would argue, can become even more lethal than sad ones, because they trap you in your past forever. They keep you away from realizing that the status-quo has changed. They deny, above everything, that although some feelings last, most of them vanish after a while. Comparably, humans try to self-cure by forgetting trauma that creates constant pain. Our brains reconstruct what happened and what did not, even when the Truth has to feel misjudged for it. For what it’s worth, traumas are the strongest and most eternal part of our pieces of mind, hence they deserve to be celebrated on a regular basis.

3. To feel sorry for things we cannot control

We hate to admit that sometimes we just hate several things, because surrendering to hatred makes us feel small. But then again sometimes we do hate ourselves for being weak, coward, and not able to take hard decisions. Then comes the fear of being powerless and completely detached with God when He created a scenario for our future. To comfort ourselves, we start creating lies about who we are, and clinging to that tiny hope given by the society. When these lies do not come true, we start feeling sorry. We apologize for not being in control of everything all the time. We wish that a different story plot could take place.

4. To leave traces of lasting memories with our beloved

All of us die. Some of us have to die sooner than the others and, however hard we try to fight against death, we always need to let go. The only way to stay alive forever, then, is to leave traces of everlasting—although not always sweet—memories with your beloved ones. What I’m telling is, if you have someone you dearly love at the moment, come to him/her and let them know you want to stay alive forever in their head. Tell them worldly ambitions do not mean anything compared to the kind of happiness that comes to your heart whenever you’re together. Because one can never predict what tomorrow brings.

5. To seek for words we never find

In the end, feelings are too complicated to be translated by human’s simple linguistic syntax. When mutant butterflies start kicking your stomach, when your heart jumps off to your throat—how come we do not own a word for that? To be human, then, is to solve the riddle of letting our counterpart understand how we really feel when there’s no adjectives (nor nouns) to define it. But then it’s okay because it makes us human.

Isn’t it beautiful, the fact thatas much as we’ve been boasting about conquering the world with technology and transformative speecheswe are just powerless, helpless beings?

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