A while ago my post on adult peer pressure and drinking was posted on Thought Catalog. One of the commenters said that one reason people find my not drinking weird is because drinking is part of being fully engaged in the “human experience” and that by not wanting to drink I am shunning what is an integral part of the human experience. He compared this to how “asexuals are weird” (not my thinking, incidentally). Anyway, this particular comment struck me as slightly sad because it suggests that regularly becoming too inebriated to think is part of natural human experience, and is a positive thing.
The comment itself got me thinking. What is “human experience”? What is it that is essential to our experience as humans? I don’t think it’s drinking. I don’t think it’s sex either, plenty of people are happy without sex, and some people just have no interest in sex. I don’t think this makes them weird or not human.
At the bar last week a lovely older gentleman “explained” to me that I should probably stop working on my degree because I was putting off the most important thing in my life: having children. I should be honest here, he later specified that grandchildren were the meaning of life, but you had to have children to get there. In fact, he kindly informed me that I was lucky to be hearing his advice because too many people (read: women) were putting off having children until after they were 25 and it was too late. So, according to him, the essential human experience is having children and grandchildren.
My little bar anecdote does correctly portray the view of many: that being fully engaged in the human experience means having children. I would know plenty of people who disagree with this too.
So what are the essential parts of the human experience? The commenter, and other people to whom I have spoken or whose words I have read seem to believe there are some fundamental aspects of the human experience that we should fully engage. I am just not sure what they are.
I would say that a person who stays alone in their home all day because they are too scared to leave is not fully engaged in the human experience. But what about the person who does so because that is what makes him happy? What must we experience to be able to say that we are “fully engaged” in the human experience? Is this objective or is it different for everyone? I have no idea – my instincts tell me it’s subjective – but I was hoping one of you would tell me!