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Well-Known Member
Emily Fischer
Fischer-Stewart Residence – Home Office
Northwest of Concord, New Hampshire, United States
October 23, 2024 – 11:24 PM

What makes a human, a human?

I always thought that it was free will. I ran away from home when I was a kid, mature as I thought I might be, basically to prove I could. I was in a weird place, in a weird situation, and I wanted to see how far I could go. I thought that was being grown up.

Don’t get me wrong, free will is important. But will on its own is just… chaos. It’s not even selfishness, it’s basically being a beast. If you’ve ever been on a downtown street, it can be really fun being a beast for a little bit, but it gets old real quick. I sat restlessly in my room, imagining that if I could just embrace that beast, my life would be cool and easy. But after a few hours on that boulevard, a few days in that container, I just wanted to be back home.

So yeah, free will, maybe a part. But not “it.”

Free will makes us act quickly. We know time is limited. We know we’ll die, just like the earth, just like the sun. So we scan words, we ignore what others say, we rush as fast as we can. Sometimes, you have to fight your will. You have to slow down, even when you don’t want to.

I’ve met a lot of smart people. Like, a lot, and way smarter than me. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it at the time, but I think always realized deep down, I was constantly around people who were just objectively smarter and brighter than me. They all gave me advice, and a lot of the time, I didn't even listen to it, just for the sake of being difficult. I'm lucky - beyond lucky - that I was able to salvage a family out of that situation.

I think if I was to ask them, they’d say the same thing I might nowadays. Humans live for a legacy. It seems logical, right? Humans have fancy DNA, we’ve got a lot of momentum, and we have a complex society that we always want more control over. Having a family isn’t even just a biological urge, it seems like a universal good. It’s something you just… do, when you’re supposed to, and it makes your life better.

And yes, it’s rewarding. Of course it’s rewarding. But it’s also hard, and messy, and complicated. Every decision is a what-if, every little bump in the road is a worry that it will ripple out forever. I can't even say to ignore those fears, because usually they're the right fears to have, because humans receive those bumps in the road as weirdly as they make those bumps.

So that’s not it. Close, but not it.

And that’s where I think I kind of figured it out. All of these concepts, these meanings… they’re all based on sending something out into the universe. Humans are naturally forced to project. If we see something that makes us happy, we have to try and share it. If we see something that makes us angry, we have to try and see if someone else is as angry as we are. That’s why the most popular stuff is always trite, depressing, or enraging.

Humans aren’t meant to be at peace. We’re meant to rally together and fight together at all costs. We did it against dinosaurs, against each other, against the Ethereals, and now we’re in a world that suppresses that instinct and we’re just clawing, scratching, begging, trying to find purpose or the next fight within ourselves.

I still feel guilty sometimes. Not just about the things I’ve killed, the people I’ve killed. The times I pushed people away. The times I was mean to my friends, just because it was a bad day. The times I was jealous of stuff that I don’t even remember.

But that’s just it: I constantly evaluate myself based on that projection. I don't evaluate myself based on what I have in my heart, but how I project my body and my feelings to others. But my projection isn’t always… in fact, it’s almost never, my intent.

So I think that’s my answer. To be a human is to recognize your echo. To understand your impact, and to try to wield it right. I think most good people do that part. But the other side of that coin is to know that you don’t always control your echo, its in your footsteps, and your fumbles, and your groans. All you can do is try to make the next sound a little brighter, and you can only do that by focusing on what you control in the now. Don’t obsess over your response, but listen to the question. Feel the way your toes fit in your shoes. The way your breath falls on your teeth. The way the morning air works through your body.

It’s not that simple, humans never are. But maybe if we learned to ignore the echo, just a little bit, we would make a little more sense. We’re in a unique time. Not because of the unification, or because of the rebuilding. It’s because we have to fight against our instincts. We don’t have to fight right now. We don’t have to echo right now.

I think I’m going to try to do that more. I know I can’t always do it, but just, I want to do it more. It’s a stepping stone. A drill. A process. The funny thing is, I started writing this message to you a couple hours ago, trying to project to you. I’m not even sure if I should send it, because I know you’ll see through the irony. Maybe I should just embrace what it is. A moment where I’m focused more on my own feet than I am on my echo. Because right here, this is where I can be me. You’re not judging my echo, and I’m not stifling yours. It’s just what I already know, deep down inside.

I miss you.

I love you.


From: University of Oxford <notificatlons@ox.ac.uk>​
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2024 3:57 PM​
To: Fischer-Stewart, Amelia <EmFischer91@eth-net.us>​
Subject: Exciting opportunity from the Oxford Cultural Anthropological Department!​
We’re seeking qualified volunteers that saw combat in the last ten years to provide valuable survey data on an upcoming collaboration with the Joint Species Human Studies department. Your input on this form will help stimulate conversation and study for years to come. Here is a partial schedule of this very exciting venture:​
10/30: “Humanity: Through a Telescope,” special fundraiser for survivors and families of victims from the Horsemen​
11/3: “What makes humanity human?” Q&A with Dr. Sunny Fischer, renowned professor and researcher​
11/5: “Biology, Merely an Obstacle,” presentation & teleconference with the Council for Human Affairs​
11/6: Ice cream social in Summertown, see attachment for admission and stage acts​
All participants who leave an address and phone number with their poll data will be entered to receive a £50 gift card to Sectbucks! I hope that you can contribute the data we need to inform these fascinating discussions! Thank you for your time!​
You can reply to this message through the portal by replying directly to this email. If you need to include an attachment, please log in to the portal and reply through the Inbox.​
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