Most of life is simply lived. One engages, works, plans, deliberates, initiates, completes chores, gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, etc. Little reflection or thought is required; much of it, like an automaton on a conveyor belt of cursory convenience, requires but mere human movement.
Perhaps in the mythological State of Nature, as described by Rousseau or Locke, the predatory environment creating a necessity of alertness just to survive, required greater cognitive involvement; or, as a corollary, an utopian condition of peace and tranquil coexistence with other forces of nature. It is when one pauses for a brief moment, reflects, and has a sudden awareness of one’s self in the presence of others, that the very knowledge of acting within the confines and context of “doing”, becomes a consciousness of self-realization.
Self-awareness — that level of consciousness beyond mere recognition of one’s surroundings, but involving a direct acuteness of “being” but simultaneously “being in the world”, is what makes for human uniqueness.
Heidegger tried to describe it through linguistic mechanisms which turned out to be beyond the common realm of understanding or comprehension, and thus became relegated to the esoteric halls of academia. Sartre and Camus attempted to capture it through fictional depictions, and indeed, it was more the texture of the novel, The Stranger, than the actual words, which came closest to successful conveyance of the experience of the absurd.
For the daily person, medical conditions tend to starkly bring out the reality of the experience. Medical conditions suddenly reveal one’s vulnerability, and the fragile nature of one’s being. Mortality becomes a reality beyond mere distance-reflection of some unknown future intent; it becomes the freshness of the now for a being within a body of decay.
For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suddenly realizes that life, career, future and the boredom of constancy can be but a moment in time because of an impending medical condition which threatens one’s security and livelihood, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, becomes a reality of immediacy, precisely because of the urgency of the medical condition upon one’s life and livelihood.
Suddenly, the priority of “being” presents itself. What one did before the crisis of vulnerability was merely a predictable pantomime; the reality of life and the significance of relationships becomes the true being of living.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits may seem like a mere act of administrative convenience, but for many, it becomes the avenue of necessity in order to deal with the reality of illness, disability, and medical urgency. And, as with all aspects of life and being, other predictable pantomimes will become apparent: the agency’s hostile reaction; the looks of suspicion from others; unfriendly attitudes displayed by coworkers and supervisors; they are all merely actors on a larger stage, but yet to realize that “being” and “being-in-the-world” are one and the same, when tragedies befall and humanity acknowledges the fragile nature of life, like the soft petal from a dying flower which drifts soundlessly upon the earthen dust from which we were born, and to which we return.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire