“Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) ~ Descartes. This is, perhaps one of the single most famous philosophical statements of modern times. “I think, therefore, I am”...
It was certainly the first philosophical statement of which I was consciously aware, because when I was a very tiny child, my mother had an apron adorned with a comic strip, featuring a slightly daft-looking English sheepdog. The dog had thought-clouds above its head, and in the first picture, looking confident and happy, it was thinking, “I think, therefore I am”. In the next, the dog looked mildly confused: “But if I only think I think, how do I know I think?” Finally, looking dizzy and utterly perplexed, it went on, “I mean, I could just be thinking I think I think… I think…”
My mother, always one to seize an opportunity to expand our education, told us (my siblings and I) about Descartes and also that, perhaps, his statement is potentially dangerous. For example, what happens when I’m unconscious? What about people with severe brain damage? Is thought really the highest measure of our worth or, in fact, of our existence? In that case, is our value measured by how well we think? Or how much we think? Or how brilliantly we grasp the implications of what we think? My mother, quite obviously, thought not… And I agree.
In the Western world, academic or intellectual thought has, to an extent, become the new religion. Materialism and the ability to measure and explain it - the science of matter - has become the primary way in which we filter the world around us. Valuable though that is, I would argue that it is not, by any means, the most valuable thing, nor the only valuable thing. Our “Being” - our existence - and our perceptions of it, go far beyond the material - and, I would suggest, far beyond our ability to comprehend it intellectually.
I am. I don’t have to understand, to be. Sometimes, in fact, it’s probably very healthy to pause in our tendency to over-think, and to simply acknowledge that “I am”. Life is. It’s complex, wonderful, breathtaking, miraculous. Thinking is a part of that - an inestimably valuable and precious part… But it’s only one sparkling facet in the jewel of our existence.
I Am All I Am
by Ruth Calder Murphy
A complex, beautiful, creative depth
of caverns and caves and plunging pools
to scramble, explore and dive...
a crazy puzzle -
pieces flung far and wide;
from galaxies and memories
and traces of DNA that didn’t get away
in the history of making me Me.
a maze -
amazed and amazing,
caught in time and in this tiny body of mine -
that in spite of what I put it through,
still manages to smile and shine my spirit through the cracks:
to carry me on and get things done,
to move on at seemingly dead ends and not look back,
to seek out the fraying threads
make ends meet...
from my tousled crown to my hard-worked feet
I am - and continue to be:
wondrously, miraculously, inexplicably…
reflections - in my own depths -
of my ever-changing skies -
and of my self in other people’s eyes -
and in memories that help to make me wise -
or wiser than I was before…
no less, no more,
no matter what the how or why…
and all I am
Ruth Calder Murphy is a writer, artist, music teacher, wife and mother living in London, UK. Her life is wonderfully full of creativity and low-level chaos. She is the author of two published novels, The Scream and The Everlasting Monday, several books of poetry and one or two as-yet unpublished novels. More of Ruth' Spiritual poetry can be found in her book, Spirit Song and the soon-to-be-released sequel, "River Song". She is passionate about celebrating the uniqueness of people, questioning the unquestionable and discovering new perspectives on old wonders. She is learning to ride the waves that come along—peaks and troughs—and is waking up to just how wonderful life really is. You can visit Ruth and view more of her art on her website, or on her writer's page on Facebook. All her books are available on Amazon, here.