It is classic to say that seeing a picture of a glass of water is not enough to quench one’s thirst. This is a simple statement, easily understood and accepted as it refers to a dense experience: quenched thirst. It turns out that the most diverse forms of human behavior are not limited to the satisfaction of organic needs; quite the contrary, they present sophisticated nuances, full of meanings and implications in the various spheres of behavior.
In fact, experimenting and signifying can be either identical or infinitely different. The fellow man, the other human being, the person who is next to me can be seen as a friend, as much as he/she can mean a threat if I do not know him/her or if I know that he/she frequents dangerous neighborhoods, for example.
Concepts and prejudices invade the present and permeate perceptions, creating meanings that amplify and support it. This process - its sequence - can either guide or mislead. Information is vital for being in the world with others, but it also destroys availability and spontaneity. The being-in-the-present always follows a pattern: we either go further or we cannot even do that.
Freedom is often a limit that is maintained rather than exceeded. Regarding values and extrinsic situations, the human being relies on strategies. These experiences structure pragmatism, which, in turn, creates scales of right/wrong, good/bad, useful/useless, expensive/cheap that begin to summarize one’s behavior. One lives to achieve good and avoid evil, to pursue the useful, seeking for success and gains, and the meaning attributed to behavior and appearances is what defines everything. The individual becomes what others desire, teach, and approve him/her to be.
To give up oneself, one’s own motivations is to become a modeling mass, a blank paper that will be written, erased, smudged by the others around.
The meaning of experiences results from the motivations that structure them and does not depend on existing models. It is a configuration, a physiognomy that is recognized or not, that is accepted or hated, but that one knows it is of his own. This taking over oneself brings satisfaction and questions, and experiences and meanings arise as answers are given. In this sequence of discoveries, meanings change and the world expands or narrows, but through relationship to others, one discovers new meanings for his/her being-in-the-world.
Without the encounter, without availability for the other, existence happens in terms of waits, contingencies, illusions, and disappointments. Everything is an enigma that needs to display meaning for one to experience vitality and joy.
Availability is only achieved when there are no purposes and desires to be fulfilled, that is when the determinant of experiences, participations and choices is strictly a function of the present. This condition is difficult to happen, it is only possible when the future - what is set for later - is in perspective, in the continuity of the present. And finally, availability begins with the admission of individual commitments: taking place in a time, in a space, being a body, being in the world with others. When all this is perceived and accepted, the limits are integrated, freedom and availability arise.