By Definition

At yesterday evening’s nightly event of putting out dishes of food for the raccoons, possums, et al, this moth kept landing on my head and then flying away.

It’s one of the features of being bald, that you feel everything that lands on your noggin, regardless of how light. At first I thought he was a butterfly but when I got a better view realized he was a moth.

He landed on some dead branches that I cut away but hadn’t cleared and he patiently waited for me to get my camera and capture his portrait.

I love all creatures but moths are in among my most favorite grouping. They are so gentle and innocent and rarely get the glory bestowed on their cousins, the butterflies.

I mean they don’t get their own gardens, nor to people get moth tattoos on their shoulders, or such.

I even overheard a woman once pull her child away from what I was shooting on a trail, with an “it’s only a moth” statement that embarrassed and upset me.

But it dawned on me last night that (perhaps like most of us) I didn’t really know the difference between a butterfly and a moth. There are immediate things like brightness of color that most people would jump on, but there are brightly colored moths too.

So this morning, I went online to search out the differences and was disappointed at the vagueness in definitions. For example, moths are nocturnal and butterflies diurnal, but then again there are diurnal moths too. And butterflies are brightly colored and moths not, except there are some brightly colored moths too.

So this whole “definition” thing grabbed my consciousness this morning and led to to this shared thought.

Like it or not, humans like to define. We like things to be put into simply labeled containers and have them categorized into good or bad, safe or dangerous, clean or unclean.

We teach our children to do this from an early age. And when we can’t neatly define things for them, we invent fairies, and gods, and magic and tell them to just believe.

So while I do have a problem with this whole notion of defining, I have a bigger problem with how we define.

And worse still, how are we defined?

For example, look up anyone in online sources (wikipedia etc) and you will see that they are defined firstly by what they did. They were a painter, a politician, a businessman. They built bridges, cured diseases, or killed people.

But does any of that really define you? Where is the “he/she was a loving, caring, devoted, witty, intelligent, human being”? Surely the real you is how you feel, think, relate, behave?

I have always believed that we should be defined by who we are, not by what we do.

Of course the problem with that is that most of the world doesn’t know who we are. Therefore they can only define us by what we do. Which is completely invalid.

Not least because those who are entrusted with the definition either like us or don’t.

It is well known that history is written by the victors, which means that almost every “loser” in every conflict is written about from a negative perspective. They have to be. How else could you justify to your population that the war that took the lives of their loved ones was being waged against someone who was actually “quite a nice guy”. No, we have to demonize him and take the stance that these are fights of “good” against “evil”.

For example, was Adolf Hitler a nice person? Did he care, love, feel? By all accounts he loved children and animals … so, who knows? And how about George Washington, was he arrogant, entitled, cold? He inherited his first ten slaves when he was a child and still had a couple hundred when he died. So, who knows?

But neither of the above is the way these people end up being defined.

I can’t imagine for a moment that anyone reading this blog is going to be remembered by the world after they die.

For most of us, the knowledge of who we were dies with us, or within a generation of our death, as our loved ones in turn die.

There may be stories that are told about us a generation after that … ” I remember the time Granddad … whatever”, but that is hardly enough to tell us who Granddad really was.

Which, if I am correct, translates into my belief that the only definition of us that matters is our current definition.Who are we now. At this moment.

How do we treat our loved ones. How do we relate to our family and friends. How do we treat our immediate environment and the little creatures that cross our path.

It doesn’t matter if you are rich and powerful or poor and humble. There are many rich and powerful assholes and many wonderful poor and humble people.

What matters most is who you are. The real you. Not the you that you project to an audience, but the person that your partner lives with, children get cared for by, and kitty gets her cuddles from.

This is why love is such a powerful element in our lives. It is a powerful expression of who we are to the people and creatures that mean most to us.

It becomes the true definition of who we are and in its absence leaves us completely locked in our own mind and undefined.

Everyday, I try to let those I love (with and without fur) know how I feel about them. It opens up my heart to them so that they will know the real me.

And my definition then, lives within them.

Have a wonderful week!

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