I celebrate life. This blog is intended as an expression of that celebration. In order, then, that you may celebrate with me, a definition or two is in order.
"Celebrate" is a carefully selected word. We normally use it to talk about parties, victories, anniversaries, and other times of joy. And joy lies at the center of life's experiences for me. Not that I have no feelings of depression, nor is it the case that I have faced no setbacks, no failures, no inadequacies; no, all those things are components of life, and so, in the end, are sources of celebration. Perhaps we need to recall that "celebrate" derives from the idea of ritual and ceremony. Life needs every sort of ritual and ceremony, as life has so many sides and so many experiences.
And what is "life?" Do not expect any answer but a practical one from me. Life is defined by the biology department: respiration, alimentation, reproduction, reaction. When I define life, I am answering the question, "How can you tell a rock from a tree?" Or "When is it time to bury the dog?" Such questions do not require profound inquiry; the answers are fairly obvious.
So in celebrating life, I am commemorating, rejoicing in, reveling in the physical world of sensation, interaction, and change. The non-living world is of interest only insofar as the living has made some use of it, as utility only then, not as a class of things in itself. The non-living includes all things which do not perform the functions above, not just the obvious, like rocks and corpses, but the eternal, the universal, the unchanging. Such things -- if such items are "things" -- are not living, and I do not celebrate them, except as the living can make use of them. An eternal verity which stultifies life, or subordinates life, is anathema and not a source of celebration.
You may object, "I do not agree with your definition of life. It misses so much." Or you may object "The eternal is far more important than the ephemeral. How can you suggest otherwise?" Here I can only suggest that you are wrongheaded. Here we are discussing fundamental stuffs where disagreement lacks the proximity to permit meaningful friction. The matters are close enough to generate heat, but not close enough to permit a controlled interaction, rather like rubbing two sticks together, rather than rubbing a stick against a knife on a lathe. The two views do not cut into each other, only grate up against each other. But permit me a moment of seduction.
I define life as I do because I do not wish to beg any questions. Grass is alive. I am alive. The desk before me is dead. How do I know? Not because of a spiritual connection between me and grass that does not exist between me and the desk, but rather because grass behaves suspiciously like me. It grows. It depends on some sort of food and water. It responds to the stimuli of fertilizer and lawn mower. Grass seems to be alive. The desk does not. The desk has not grown, or changed, or responded to anything I have confronted it with (I suppose I should mention that it has a granite top and heavy wooden drawers.) The desk not only doesn't behave like me, it doesn't behave at all.
"Ah," you say, "a behaviorist." And the arguments begin to line up. But do the arguments you propose make the desk alive? If so, then I suggest you should abandon them, as a granite topped desk is most assuredly not alive. Do the arguments you muster make the grass non-living? Then again, I suggest you are in error. Do your arguments suggest life is something else, something I have missed, but leave the grass alive and the desk not? Then I leave you to your notions, though I do wonder why you need more than to know that I and the rich green grass live, while my handsome green granite desk does not. In terms of distinguishing the living from the not-living, I cannot see what more is needed. More is commentary, not definition.
Now, regarding the eternal: If the eternal does not change, and it cannot, as change has time for a component and the eternal exist transcendant of time, then it has no place in the world of the living. For the living is changing always -- eating, sleeping, growing, atrophying -- and needs to change or cease to live. Indeed, the sure sign of the non-living is abscence of change. That which is not part of my world cannot be more important to me than that which is part of my world. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that I abandon living, and that does not celebrate life.
Of course there is more. But for now, it is enough for you to know that I celebrate life.