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Things Learned Maybe Before I was Able to Speak: Some Facts of Human Existence as Might be Thought by a Baby

by William McGaughey


I open my eyes. It is either day or night. In the daytime, light makes things in the world visible. There is not enough light to illuminate the world in the night.

During the night, I spend much of my time asleep. I am not immediately conscious of what I am doing. During the daytime, I engage in conscious activities. There is a cycle of conscious activity and unconscious sleep during the day and night, each phase following the other.

Basically, I am in the world. I am continually breathing. I must breathe every minute or I would become unconscious. I breathe air through my lungs. This reinvigorates my consciousness and keeps me alive.

There is weight in this world, I have found. Everything that goes up must come down. My body also has weight that must be carried during the day’s activities. I have learned to use my muscles effectively toward that end.

I can see through my eyes, hear through my ears, and smell through my nose. Everywhere on my body, I can feel sensations of touch. Somehow this all gets translated into thoughts of physical presence that tell me what is going on in this world.

During the day, I must eat food to avoid or end hunger pangs. My food generally consists of materials from once-living creatures, either plant or animal, rather than from raw minerals. It is largely solid although water-based liquids are also required. I eat solid food by chewing them with my teeth and then swallowing the chewed materials. I drink liquids which require no previous processing but are merely swallowed. Both nourish the body.

After a certain time, I become uncomfortable from the residue of things I have eaten and drunk. When they have become thoroughly processed and utilized, I must evacuate bodily wastes. This evacuation of wastes takes two forms. The yellow-colored liquid is expelled through bodily openings in the front of my body, just above and between the legs . The smelly, brown-colored solids are expelled through a larger hole in back, just behind the front opening.

There are five fingers (or thumbs) on each of my two hands, and five toes on each of my two feet. That makes ten appendages altogether. What a coincident that we count in tens. Our mathematics is highly evolved but grounded in the basic facts of human existence.

Tiny fibers of hair grow on the outside of my skin. There is continual growth on the top of my head. At a certain point, this hair must be cut before it grows too long. The hair on the rest of the body can largely be left alone; it will not grow further. There are also semi-transparent cuticles or nails on the fingers and toes.

The light in the daytime comes mainly from a bright object in the sky, the sun. This object is so bright that you cannot look at it directly without injuring your eyes. There is also light in a less intense form during the night when the moon appears in the sky and partially illuminates the landscape. When the sun and moon appear together, the sun’s rays are dominant.

The sun makes the world warm. It is warmer in the day time when the sun appears overhead than in the night. It is also warmer during the summer when the sun shines more directly and for a longer period of time than in the winter. It is uncomfortable for people to go outside when the temperatures are too hot or too cold.

I began my life as a baby. My body was then much smaller than those of adults around me. I depended upon two particular adults, my parents, for food and other materials and support in life. As an infant, I may have been fed with milk from my mother’s breast.

As the years went by, my body grew larger. I gained knowledge and experience each day that I lived. At a certain point, I was able to function independently of my parents.

I am aware that, as with my parents, human beings and most other animals come in two types, male and female. As adults, males grow beards; females do not. Females have high-pitched voices; male voices are deeper. Males have partially cylindrical external appendages to expel urine through their front openings. Females expel urine through slits in front of their bodies and between their legs. Both use the same apparatus for expelling solid waste.

Occasionally, the males insert their external appendages into the female slits and move them back and forth until a state of excitement is achieved and seminal liquid is ejected. But this happens in a mature stage of life. We’re getting years ahead of the story. Sorry I brought it up here.

After a time, these facts of fundamental human existence are taken for granted. We handle most of life’s functions by habit. Around two to three years of age, human beings learn to talk. Our lives are then shaped more by conscious interaction with other human beings. We learn what other people think and are guided by their knowledge and example.

At this point in life, we seldom think of the basic situation associated with our human existence. We do not forget what once had to be learned. Lest you forget, however, I am reminding you of certain things that might have been unfamiliar to you when you were a baby. Now they are second nature.

Was this a useful exercise? Did you learn anything here?

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