Seeking to Define

Seeking to DefineWhy do we as humans seek to define?

In my younger days as a scientist, my whole being was focused on defining. I think it began when I was barely 9 and decided to catalog all the marine mammals.

Those were the days before computers and Internet, so I set about with 3 by 5 cards and a metal box. The box, I covered with stickers, as any self-respecting 9 year old girl will do. And the cards, those I filled with my own brand of marine mammal classification system.
I began with all the animals I knew of, from my frequent trips to Marine World. Then I checked some books out of the school library and continued to add to my card box with all the marine mammals I could find. When I had finished the metal box was about half filled with cards that contained each animal`s name, scientific and popular, habitat, life span, where first discovered, and a sketch (9 year old style with colored pencils).

My next task was to scour the local newpapers and magazines my family subscribed to, like Ranger Rick and National Geographic, for articles about newly-discovered species. Every time I discovered a newly sighted animal or a new fact, I would add it to the cards in my metal box.

By the time I was in high school, the box was pretty much complete, I had figured out a way to organize with an indexing system, the knowledge got me a volunteer weekend job at an aquarium, and I had set my sights on becoming a scientist.

So why did I want to define all those whales and walruses and dugongs and spinner dolphins? Why do I, to this day, have that filled and decorated box sitting on a shelf in my bedroom?

I think the answer is that the need to define our lives (in every sense of the word) is one of the precious aspects of our humanity, placed inside us like a spark, driving us forward to understand and ultimately reach goodness and light.

I did not find that which I was seeking as a scientist. I found it in my children and my family and my Creator. And that, I think is why I set out at an early age to define.

This is a five minute Friday post with the word prompt for the day brought to you by Kate Motaung: Define.  Five Minute Friday is a group of people who gather on Friday to do a five minute free writing session around a word prompt.  Then we share what we have written and offer encouragement. Why not join us?

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  • Hi Kirsten, I do believe you are right in suggesting how the need to define seems to be hardwired into our humanity. From birth, we seek to make sense of the world around us and our place within the scheme of things. And it continues into adulthood, with a pressing need to control, draw boundaries and borders from within which we can feel safe, and to define ourselves in comparison with others. Then we discover how God defines us in terms of being His beloved, and our old order gets torn up and blown away by grace! I enjoyed your post and appreciate you stopping by my place. Bless you, friend! 🙂

    • DoodleMom

      Thank you – and you put it so very elegantly!

  • oh.. interesting connection that.

    • DoodleMom

      Thanks!