​​Your Experiencing Is A Portal That
Opens Out Onto The World Through Both
 ​The ​Motions of Life  & ​The ​Modes of Human Becoming​​​​ ​​


You see, now, that a man will never drop a link in his chain. He cannot. If he made up his mind to try, that project would itself be an unavoidable link -- a thought bound to occur to him at that precise moment, and made certain by the first act of his babyhood.
                                    --Mark Twain's ​The Mysterious Stranger

    ​Experiencing is the most basic human act of all. It is the reach of life
​in ​the individual as well as the reaching for life ​of the individual that takesplace soon after conception, when the human organism, at that precise time​a veritable controlled explosion of cells in the womb, moves to make sense of all it comes across. This primal act starts the life of the self, and it goes on each and every instant of a human being's life until death. It is the one act, more than any other, that forms our bodies and fashions our lives. The sense man makes, in its turn, makes man.

​. . . the whole realm widens out again before me and around me--
​the air of life fills my lungs -- the light of achievement flushes over
all the place, and I believe, I see, I do.
​                                                                             -- Henry James

​    Expanding​ is the movement of human life outward and upward in cellular growth, which is accentuated at birth but continues long afterward as the human organism extends into physical space-time. This psychophysical
​forming keeps on as the tissues, organs, limbs, and muscles of the individual develop and his or her life unfolds. This basic burgeoning of the life-process makes its mark early as a prolonged undercurrent of motion and vitality. 


​I do not know who I am, what soul I have . . . . I feel beliefs which
I do not hold. I am ravished by passions I repudiate.
                                                                       -- Fernando Pessoa

​    Existing ​is the action of positing oneself and one's life in the world, of
​being someone with definite needs and wants, and of moving to do something
​about it. This act exposes the individual to all the fascinations and frustrations that life holds, involving one "in the thick of it" right along with
everyone else. This act makes the life of a child as worthy and real in its
​experiencing as that of any adult. Life is profound at any age.


. . . one can mingle in the world with fresh perceptions only when
one is young. The great thing is to be saturated with something--
that is, in one way or another, with life.
​                                                                            --Henry James

​    Exploring is life moving on to take in and find out more. It is trust
and care on the move, which arise respectively out of expanding and
​existing, participating in the act of ​coming to know​ more of self, others, and world. Once a human gets to its feet, the soft underbelly is exposed, and from then on its vulnerability is transported through the world as affectability -- hence it is that through which we come to know ever more and more. Without ​exploring​ there is insufficient contact with the ongoingness of what is and what happens, and life stagnates in a sea of sameness.


Where am I going? I don't know. When will I be there? I aint
certain. All I know is I am on my way.
​                                 -- Theme song from ​Paint Your Wagon

​    Excursing is setting out to find a life of one's own. It involves beginnings, breaks, and endings in previous life-patterns. Leave-
​takings, whether accomplished geographically or symbolically are of lasting importance because only those who leave home ever really find it. as expmplified in the Biblical parable, it was the Prodigal Son's reach for what was rightfully his, his taking and using it all on his own. that enabled him to "come to himself." Clearly, there is no way to know if an individual is completely prepared for this step, because as much as anything, it is the reaching itself that makes one ready. In general, if there is no reaching, then there is probably not yet the readiness; for those who are ready, reach. This act births all genuine human responsibility.


It is not my work that interests me above all else; it is work,
​without a possessive pronoun, that must live.
​                                                                    --George Seferis

​    ​Exerting​ is the ambitious attempt to build the kind of life one wants
​in the world -- to "find one's niche" or "make one's mark" in order to get on with the business of making one's life. It is the pouring of an individual's primary energies into those ways and means chosen to live life through, regardless of how they may be viewed or valued by the common crowd.
    ​ Our capacities and capabilities are far greater than most of us dare discern and develop, yet those can only be taken in hand through considerable toil and effort, and used by those willing to sweat fat and fluff off both body and brain, or turn them into muscle. This is the act, the motion of life, that measures individual capability and limit, thus providing a person with that personal frame of reference through which all the rest of life is primarily perceived and engaged.


​I thought I was learning to live. I was only learning to die.
​                                                  -- A song from the Sixties

​    ​Exceeding​ is a life going beyond its earlier primary limits. If an earlier
​exerting did not determine these limits, then of course there can be no such clear and distinct going beyond them. This, by far, is the riskiest of all the motions of life, for it goes headlong into the most dangerous disruptions, upheavals, abrupt turnabouts, and reversals found in the experience of human beings.
​    ​It is a time when starting and stopping, pleasure and pain, laughing and crying, and living and dying no longer appear as opposites but rather as different sides of the same thing. Life here is found to be bigger, badder, and better than it was ever known to be efore -- a reality still growing over against one that must be unflinchingly faced for what it is and isn't. Often there is a felt movement here from "there is something wrong with me if I don't fit the molds" to "there is something wrong with molds that don't fit me." It can be a time of the greatest follies, the flattest flops, and of the rarest findings.Context-puncture, which might occasionally occur in a few of the other motions here or there, ​always​ takes place here where many seldom seen realities are uncovered in self, others, the world -- and in living and dying too. Those aboe to face death squarely are the ones who also begin to live life fully. They are those, of whom the world never has too many, who know there is ultimately no way out but through.


​Cursed be he who sees but does not speak.
​                                                              -- Book of Jubilees

    ​Expressing is living one's experiencing to the fullest and taking all
the consequences of doing so. Few humans ever achieve much of this --
​for it is open only to those capable of crossing over through ​exceeding --
​and the genuineness of those who do is highly visible in their not having
to hide either their successes of their failures. They know life is there
​more for the taking than it is for the asking -- for who are we supposed to ask? If power is something people are waiting for others to give them,
then it is probably something they are not yet ready to receive. If one is
able to live with a No, then one is ready to ask for any Yes in the world.
    This act of reaching forth to take life in one's own hands and use it is
the most rudimentary expression of self-worth a human being is capable
of; and it is the very opposite of selfishness (which always isolates),
because this movement of life brings one into more contact with everything
and everyone, not less.
​    Contrary to what is commonly taught, life is not undermined by those
​who reach for it, but rather by those who ​don't. Those who stand and seethe silently with anger at someone's choosing to live with, are usually
​more deeply angry at their own choosing to live without. No one respects the reaching out for life more than another reacher. They know it for the life and death matter it truly is. ​Expressing​ is knowing where you stand and what you stand for, doing it, and letting it show. It is that standing-one's-ground which genuine ​understanding​ has always been. Without authentic ​expressing​ after an act of ​exceeding​, there is only a shrunken living. You never really help the being of another, or of the universe, by wiping out your own. 


​We are a field of ripened grain. . . no longer green and not yet
​dried. . . Weve reached the peak of the mountain and everything is
clear up there on the peak: the way we came up, the way we'll go
​                                                                             -- Oriana Fallaci

​    Extracting separates the wheat from the chaff, keeps the essence of what one's life has matured into, and lets the rest fall by the wayside. It is a sifting and sorting whereby life's load is lightened. Letting go of what has long mattered is, in many ways, harder than deciding what matters in the first place. We become bound to those things we have poure out life into. There are people who find this letting go so difficult that it's something they never get around to doing. Unable to end what has outlived its usefulness, such people wobble dangerously near to outliving their own -- and a few do tumble on into that way of living.
​    Such a waning wobble is induced by seeing this necessary act only as a letting go, missing that it is instead a separating out of and holding onto that which still lives, but which needs to be rooted in different soil if it is to bear fruit once more. This restructuring in life's later stages is usually accompanied by a restructuring of the body and its energies as well. These re-doings inside and out combine in a most fundamental reforming, rearranging, re-channeling, and sometimes even a relocating of a life's established patterns of work, engagements, and play.


​Every now and then I feel like I am twenty. And some days I feel
about forty-five to fifty. Then, there are a few days when I actually
do feel seventy-five. But most of the time I feel about thirty-two or
​                                           -- A working actor at age seventy-five   

​    ​Extending ​is keeping on with the work of nurturing what has been ​extracted. ​Without ​extracting ​there is no viable ​extending. ​A "niche" can actually be a rut that allows just enough motion to appear that it is going somewhere. When a person has risen to the life-task of ​esxtracting, however,
​there is a vintage vitality left to pour into the channels one has by then chosen to extend. This ​extending​, in turn, provides the means for fresh and quite different points of contact and exchanges with life that may now lie in every quarter and run in all directions. One need not live the pace of youth to bear still all the vigor of its spirit.


​. . . and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
​                                                                -- The Gospel of John

​    Extinguishing​ is the act of giving up experiencing the reach ​of life and ​for life found in the individual. Though there may be no perceptible pause
​to deliberate, choosing nevertheless enters into how we use what we have to become what we are. Choice is there in the reach of that sense which we make ​at our very start, continues in all the sense that we make and live throughout its entire span, and choice is there too in how we come to let go of life at the very end.



​the Artistic Experience
​of Life

​"Basically, I'm really just a hoofer."

​​James Cagney

the Religious Experience
​of Life

​"My purpose in writing was not beauty, it was deliverance." 

​Nikos Kazantzakis



​the Philosophical Experience
​of Life

​"There is no truth without the way to truth."

​Paul Tillich



the Historical Experience
​of Life

"Listen! A journalist is a person who writes ​history in the same moment that history happens. And it is the damn best way to write history."

​Oriana Fallaci



the Political Experience
​of Life

​"I am always mortified when anything is expected of me which I cannot fulfill."
​Thomas Jefferson



the Scientific Experience
​of Life

​"The more the organism perceives iself the less we have to debate about truth. Much becomes self-evident in the process of living."

​Stanley Keleman



the Psychological Experience
​of Life

​"The closest I can come to eliciting and reinforcing real-self behavior in my patient is by manifesting it myself."
​Sidney Jourard

The complete article on each one of the modes depicted here -- taken from my book and typified in the lives of these outstanding individuals -- can be read in full at my "Gateways Into The World" blog at Word Press. The final article, on Sidney Jourard (author of the classic in psychology entitled The Transparent Self ), who remained my mentor and friend until his tragic death when he was only forty-eight, is currently being expanded to include previously undiscovered material, and will appear here when it is finally finished.

Clicking on the button below will open a window that can take you directly to it. And, when you're done there, closing that window will land you right back here.