Dissecting Understanding: Part I

elk

Understanding….a seemingly simple word, and yet it is one of the hardest virtues to master. What is understanding? What does it mean?

Yes, in school, it means that you get it. You understand that 2+2=4. You may not completely understand why….as one question my favorite philosophy teacher posed: “Do numbers truly exist? Is seven a real thing?” As to that question, I have no idea. I never understood questions like that, haha! But yes, in school, understanding means that you get it.

What about people? Can the same principal be applied to the understanding of people? How understanding are we towards our fellow man? What does understanding mean then? What does it mean to truly understand who, what, and why a person is the way that they are?

I think a lot of it is empathy, but to be able to empathize, you need to relate. There are way too many situations in the world for any one person to empathize with them all. In fact, that life sounds like it could be outrageously pleasant and horrendously terrifying at the same time. Therefore we cannot, or wouldn’t want to, possess the ability to completely empathize with every single person every time. So what do we do then? Do we pretend to understand? Do we brush them under the rug? Do we completely flip out on them because there is absolutely no way we could understand their actions, so therefore they are in the wrong?

What does it mean? Do we need to understand everyone? Would the world be a better place if we could?

The reason I ask is because I am one of those people who is almost crippled by the need for people to understand me. I already told you that I am a walking contradiction….and even this contributes to that image. I want to be viewed as a rebel who doesn’t care what the world thinks, and yet I am offended when you do think ill of me. I lay out all of my ‘ness’ to allow you the opportunity to pick the reasons as to why you could hate me, yet it really hurts my feelings when you do. People understanding me is very important to me.

I do not think I am special enough to believe I am the only one who feels as thus. I’m sure a lot of people do. Is it pride? Is it wrong?

All I can do is practice my ability to understand others. Fortunately for the world, unfortunately for me, I can empathize with most of the bad, so at least I have that. I haven’t had the worst life, by any means–my life is profoundly blessed! I had two amazing parents, fantastic friends, and I’ve always had a roof over my head and food in my belly, but I have been touched by a lot of darkness, so I get it, lbvs! One of the bad things about having blessings? They can be taken away from you. For example, I had the best mom EVER!! (No offense to any great mother out there!) And I had to watch my mother suffer and die–I heard the final breath that came out of her body. She was my bestest friend. It sucked. That is the word for it. That is not the only darkness I carry, but, for now, it is the worst.

What I need to work on is not being jealous of those with what I would call “silly” problems–because it is only silly to me! Not to them. I may wish I could have problems like that, but I don’t. And they weren’t the ones who caused mine, so it isn’t fair to hold it against them, is it? I am not going to give an example here, just in case that example happens to be the issue you are currently working through, haha! No judgement from me!

So what is understanding? How do we achieve it if we just don’t get it? If I cannot understand why you are feeling pain right now, does it lessen your pain? Do I need to understand? What is the difference between understanding and acceptance? Can I accept what I don’t understand?

Well…I think I found the direction for Part II, anyway. Understanding is very dear to me. In fact, for a high school project, we had to write a eulogy for our own tombstone. I do not remember exactly what I said, but I know, “She just wanted to be understood…” was in there somewhere! So we will revisit this topic. For now…

What does understanding mean to you?

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