Sunday, June 29, 2008

everyone's talking intentional

1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
2. the end or object intended; purpose.
3. intentions,
a. purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct: a bungler with good intentions.
b. purpose or attitude with respect to marriage: Our friends are beginning to ask what our intentions are.
4. the act or fact of intending.
5. Logic.
a. Also called first intention, primary intention. reference by signs, concepts, etc., to concrete things, their properties, classes, or the relationships among them.
b. Also called second intention, secondary intention. reference to properties, classes, or the relationships among first intentions.
6. Surgery, Medicine/Medical. a manner or process of healing, as in the healing of a lesion or fracture without granulation (healing by first intention) or the healing of a wound by granulation after suppuration (healing by second intention).
7. meaning or significance: The intention of his words was clear.
8. the person or thing meant to benefit from a prayer or religious offering
1. done with intention or on purpose; intended: an intentional insult.
2. of or pertaining to intention or purpose.
3. Metaphysics.
a. pertaining to an appearance, phenomenon, or representation in the mind; phenomenal; representational.
b. pertaining to the capacity of the mind to refer to an existent or nonexistent object.
c. pointing beyond itself, as consciousness or a sign.


A lot of my blog reading and conversations, especially online over the course of the past two or three years, have had this strong theme of "being intentional" running through them. Not always at the forefront of conversations as an actual topic, but definitely as an underlying philosophy and concept.

It seems that many in the western world consider the logic of determination in ones life and living to be a value of great importance and a worthy aim.

Some bloggers call it by other names... such as "living consciously". Even I include the word "coherence" in my blog which I guess if you extrapolated would become "intentionality" in living ones life in the end.

What does it really mean though to be INTENTIONAL about life?

Life is an infinite number of decisions we make every day from what kinds of clothes we'll wear to whether or not to support a particular political or ethical concept. The highest value of all in our culture is the freedom to think and decide the destiny of our lives as we please.

But what does the philosophy of being intentional really mean here? Is it about the ego self making justifications for gratifying decisions that have nothing to do with the care and concern of others or the world around us?

No! I don't think so. In some cases yes but that's not the majority of bloggers out here. Most seem to park the label of "Intention" firmly in the camp of being careful about the decisions we make every day. About the consequences of our choices and how we choose to make our lives. I think a lot of us are hoping that we let go a little of the ego-centricity of choice and start thinking a little more globally. Many of us are looking for choices based on Love rather than economics or policy.

Thing is... we can be as intentional about life as we like but life is also ACCIDENTAL and so therefore is Love. And Hope. And Faith.

These things can blindside us or sneak up on us when we least expect them.

Intentional is a lofty aim of the human psyche and a worthy one indeed. But I reckon we should never discount that life is very much about the Accidental too.

Accidental life isn't about being unaware of what is happening around us but it is being open and available to the surprises! So, in the midst of planning to live a certain way and be a certain way or intend a kind of life that is evolved and conscious and aware...we need to also risk allowing the accidental into our lives as well.

Jealousy, anger, strife, unemployment, hatred, dishonour et al: All these things constitute life as well. They're not welcome sure! But they exist, and while I'm not suggesting we warmly embrace them as ideals to aspire to, we do need to be careful we don't beat our higher moral selves over the head too much when they sneakily intrude on our good intentions.

Intentional living can imply we want the perfect life! We want to keep rising above and above and above into the realm of the gods - always climbing the consciousness tower of babel in our pursuit to be worthy and unsullied.

That kind of intentional won't work. It starts from a false imperative anyway... the ego Self, which is always about "ME FIRST!". Being intentional isn't about climbing some psychological or spiritual ladder of the personal best.

Being intentional is about being open to life and aware of all its vicissitudes and about not holding the bee stings we get sometimes against anyone else, but asking ourselves why we had our hand in that particular beehive in the first place! It's about learning the truth behind our own motives and emotional responses. It's about wanting to seek love and understanding not just for ourselves but for the people we hardly bear to think about every single day. It's about forgiveness and the welcoming of Joy into the lives of everyone. Because we ALL matter.

The accident of life is that we didn't have a choice to arrive here. Who's intention was it? Gods or our parents or a combo of both - and that's cool. The other accident of life is that life is an accident of nature every single we so take for granted we forget that it is indeed a pure bloody amazing miracle it even exists at all. What we attempt to DO with this accident is the journey of thought that does most of our philosophical heads in.

Maybe being intentional isn't the purpose we need to seek. Maybe... we need to just lighten up and love life for what it is...even the ugly bits. Maybe we need to not try so hard to be so flaming LOGICAL about everything in our lives and allow a few accidents spice things up a bit and make us more interesting...make LIFE more interesting. We can't put life in a road rut. Life will go on around us...we put ourselves into a road rut.

Yeah? You can choose the road rut if you want to but don't be so naive to think that by your being "intentional" in not choosing that're actually just choosing another different set of road ruts a few latitudes over! :) Sometimes life asks us to travel a particular set of road ruts for a reason we can't figure out until we get there. Life's sneaky like that.



Porena Pomilio said...

Yeah it all sounds nice to study the etymology of the word and to point our the problems with being "Intentional" but those of us who promulgate the necessity of IC point to the context.
After over 10,000 years of being conditioned to live as subjects under the "protection" of the Empire within which we happen to live, it is abut to fail us miserably, and the structure is one that it resists the appearance of alternatives.
So yes, IC may be fraught with logical, epistemological issues but you who have abdicated the control of your life ad let your dignity be taken from you.... do you want the alternative? OR maybe you believe you will be taken care of by the hand that feeds you today?

Michelle said...

Hi Porena. I'm not sure I fully understand your point in the last sentence here. Have *I* abdicated control over my life?

I had not thought of my ideas here in relationship to the concept of an Intentional Community you is something worthy of consideration.

Being intentional IS definitely beneficial in many life situations of course and where the ideals of loving others, being peaceful and egalitarian, honourable and ecologically sound are evident, I am all for Intentional! Absolutely :)

Thanks for the twist and I hope you're not offended by my critique in regard to your passion for IC. :)