It has been said that what makes human superior to (or different from) other species on this planet is that human is the only one that can imagine; others operate off facts and reality. They do not possess the skill (or the brain capacity) to imagine a virtual world, something that is not there, that is maybe, that is possible.
This is quite interesting, because it definitely feels so — we are often moved and motivated by a futuristic view, which may or may not pan out to be the case. Yet we get excited about it, work hard based on such projection, and gets disappointed if it doesn't realize the way we want. So is love, is life.
I was thinking today while limping along → what makes of life? what makes one full of life? why getting old makes one, less lively, appearing to have less life? Is it really the beauty, the young skin, the age? These are rather, factual. There is no denial that elders don't look as good, but that is also by the eyes of the young I would think. Even when I heard other species don't imagine, I would have argued that there are two assumptions to this that can be challenged:
- how do you know a frog doesn't imagine?
- you can't impose your definition of imagination upon a frog cause s/he (or it) also imagine, but differently from yours.
Therefore, using this statement to support the argument that human thus is better, is rather groundless ← this is the same when you say you are the best looking person in the world (or your mom says so) because you are using a standard so subjective (and almost absolutely unique) that no one else can match. As soon as we start to question the objectivity of it, the saying crumbles down.
So aging, wrinkled skins, lost physiques, can not be used to make the case of having less life. In the eyes of the 80s, ladies in their 60s are young (then how funny that human is so obsessed of age difference when they are actually young! A love between a 20-year-old girl and a 40-year-old guy often gets a rap as if the girl is at loss and the guy is taking advantage of her). And even their definition of life has likely changed from the ones I'm thinking of ← maybe they view experience of ups and downs more valuable than a pretty face, a healthy teeth more than a flush hair.
Then, what about the proximity to death? Surely the closer you are, the less life you should have. This sounds right. Yet, how to explain people who are more, lively, in their 80s than someone who is in the 20s!? Stress? Unhappiness? unfairly treated by life? bad luck?... None of this sounds right.
Here is my theory. The degree of life is indeed defined by the capacity to imagine. The more of you that is still willing to imagine, and the less you are views things in its reality and be annoyed by it (or, like me these days, even upset by it), the more life you have. Kids are known to be master of imagination, and no one could deny that kids, all of them, are full of life, energy. Yet, we will also agree that they are the farthest from reality ← they take no notice of time, no etiquette of any except their instinct, no sense of order, completion, anything.
When they start to grow up, they are thrown into the reality and forced to learn, to adapt, and to replace, bit by bit, their imaginative world with facts. Like the talk on NPR today, human took astrology because they thought the sky, the wind, the sun, the moon were talking to him, telling him it is time to plant, to harvest, and so on (what a self-important view!). Then, came the scientist, whose so called truth (physics) tells the complete opposite ← that you are nobody in this world, no sun god is overseeing your business, you better either plant your seed when the time is right, which physics and satellite are making it pin-point accurate, or your crop will fail.
In the pre-weather-forecast version, we feel loved, we revered these mysterious forces, we feel connected, there is life in everything; in the factual world, yes we as a specie has advanced and has gained much more control than sacrificing a pig to pray for rain. Yet, we have less life.
When I'm depressed, I feel the say way. When I got frustrated by some BS talks and wondered how people can be blind to such contradicting reasoning and sometimes pure lies, life itself becomes a burning hell.
Then, when love strikes, when a picture of her and a life with her dangling in front of my mind, life is wonderful. So I think the argument is indeed correct — that human is defined by its capacity to imagine, not by its capacity to take facts. Old people don't have less life because they are old, but because they know more, they see more reality, and they put less weight to imagine. Not that they don't imagine. I think they do; I think we will also do. Just that when you imagine, you hear louder and louder a voice in your head, in your heart, telling you this is virtual.
When we gain the capability to distinguish reality from fiction, we are becoming stronger, wiser, a better person, I believe. Then, like everything else in life, we pay a price of not believing in a tin solider friend, or love, or a rosy future. We feel, less life.
— by Feng Xia