Fly on the Wall—What’s the Real Stuff of Us?

What does an existentialist seagull caw?  Pour q’uoi!?! (Why, they seem to ask.)

Why are we here now, and how?  That’s the backdrop to our learning as we seek to understand the world and our place in it.  Our personal growth is part and parcel with this journey.  The search for our meaning of life is about learning; it’s added to by AU.  In our studies we are bettering our minds in ways we’d maybe have never hitherto imagined.  But the question as to what is the stuff of us remains.  Perhaps it always will.  But to seek is to find, and the journey is the destination.  Awareness and openness are our ticket to ride.

Consider the Saskatchewan-born hippie songwriter Joni Mitchell.  Her famous song ‘Woodstock’ claims:

“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden” (Mitchell, online).

Maybe we’re just space junk—come to rest here on a ball of geologic yarn that we call Earth.  Yet we feel like so much more than that every time we make eye contact with a loved one or help a stranger and feel that twinge of care that connects us to the rest of humanity.  Maybe we feel it even as we feel a judgmental darkness about those who refuse to get vaccinated; are they risking the lives of their kids and seniors or are they just being themselves?  Who’s to say, at some level.  The moon keeps going through phases as we all do.

Great Fireballs of Ideas

A recent Werner Herzog documentary summarizes so much about being alive and learning along the way.  Reducing ourselves to flecks of space matter, stardust, may be as asinine as claiming that every thought and feeling we’ve ever experienced was somehow injected into us like a placebo or a cure.  What makes life special is us actively living the learning along the way.  And the sweet smell of success, unlike the burnt metal aroma that space is said to impart, is ineffable when we want to place it onto a mere sensory palette provided by our mortal coil as human beings.

Herzog, faced with caring astrophysicists keen to assert that we are all literally made up of spacedust that some cosmic Hoover vacuum might suck up meaninglessly at a moments notice, enters the frame.  For the only time in the whole show he interjects himself into the interview proceedings to claim “I’m not stardust, I’m Bavarian.” (Herzog, online).  It seems no matter who we are we feel we also have a cultural place and a sense of identity that transcends what we are in a mechanical or physical way.  AU is special that way because, even as we can be students almost anywhere, even camping without wifi or out under the stars with nothing but our study guide, we are always ourselves becoming a newer, better, educated version of our prior selves.  Life is about learning, and we all learn whether we know it or not, but our studies provide windows of opportunity that we never even knew we had.

Blood of Mind, Blood of Body

Take our life’s fuel, our blood.  “Human blood is made of plasma (makes up 54.3% of the blood volume) and several kinds of cells (corpuscles); these are –

  • erythrocytes (RBC) – 45% of blood by volume
  • leukocytes (WBC) – 0.7% of blood by volume
  • thrombocytes (platelets) – minute amounts” (Kamal, online)

In our minds we are so much more than that, though.  In the old days; that is, prior to neuroscience reducing our definitions of our minds to mere brain machines, psychoanalysts defined our minds, the real movers and shakers of our beings as humans, as including an Id, which is our selfish, childish impulses; an Ego, the moderator between Id and Superego that relies upon reality testing and planning; and the Superego that is the conscience, the critic, and tells us what we shouldn’t do as a good person.  (Psychology Concepts, online.)

But chemistry, ideas, feelings, none of these contain all that makes us who we are.  Perhaps the best part of education at AU is the realization that we are more than we ever knew we could be before.  The building blocks of our future selves are created by our personal interactions with our course material.  And, unlike social media with its memes and debates, we can learn new things that will give us grounds to better understand ourselves and the world all around.  Or at the very least, we will know that we’ve learned our methods from tried-and-true academic sources.  So, enjoy!  Happy learning, for this is what we do!  It’s all making us grow to be more authentic and erudite.

Herzog, W.  In Erhlich, D.  (2020).  ‘Fireball, Visitors From Darker Worlds Review’.  Retrieved from
Kamal.  (2010).  ‘What is Human Blood Made Of?’.  Retrieved from
Mitchell, J.  (1970.) ‘Woodstock’.  Retrieved from
Psychology Concepts.  (2020).  ‘Id, Ego, and Superego’.  Retrieved from
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