What happens when I wake up in the morning?

I connect to myself, experience where I am and how my physical state is. I interact with my surroundings and the world, as I’m influenced by the kind of weather it is outside, the noise, the temperature, humidity, the fabric of the bed sheets and odour in my bedroom and whether I wake up alone or with my spouse beside me.

It so happens that this Sunday morning I wake up ‘alone’. But I’m not alone. From the moment I start to wake up, I become conscious of a multitude of factors that surround me and factors that I take action on, such as my bodily needs, so I get up and go to the bathroom. The world takes on meaning as I give it meaning. As my surroundings act upon me, I in turn act upon them. There is a strong connection between these two events. For much of this, I use ‘internal’ language. As I think, I talk to myself, asking myself what I should do next.

Of course at the moment I’m aware of a certain pressure to finish a poster and assignments in the next 10 days. I say to myself: I’m calm, aware of my breathing and I feel good because I’m healthy, have enough to eat, certainly more than enough. That’s a condition for starting a day ‘all by myself’ (meaning here that my wife is still at a meeting in Paris and returning Monday evening) and doing and deciding to do, to complete what needs to be done at this moment in time.

So by writing this shortly after waking up (8:48) I realise that all this and much more (apart from my physical state of being, my beliefs and deep convictions, my working situation, financial and family situation) define, redefine who I am, who I become, my identity. The elements that influence us, that demand and ask for a balance within us are beautifully presented in positive psychology. They include a) our relation with ourselves, b) our body; our family & friends, c) our social environment; d) our work; our dreams, visions & beliefs (Peseschkian, 1979).

As it is time for breakfast I conclude by stating how grateful I am for having this opportunity, this privilege and luxury to reflect on what I’m doing and what’s happening to me; being able to learn about learning, development, interaction, identity, culture and the world we live in. I’m also aware that rights and privileges should be accompanied with duties and responsibilities. I know what guides my desire & passion to know about the world and I wonder what happens when I talk or interact with myself. Do I get an answer from myself? How does this happen? Is the answer guided and strongly influenced by all kinds of stimulus (of course the physical one is hardly avoidable, to have breakfast), influenced by my values & beliefs, my level 4 hypergeneralized semiotic field? (Valsiner, 2007, p. 300).

Much of what we do in the ma programme is concerned with the construction of social reality, the ways we engage with others, the ways we learn. I hope to experience with some triangles from cultural historical activity theory (Engeström, 2006) (“…agenda was to revolutionize psychology, do go beyond behaviourism and various sort of biologically inspired approaches to bring in culture in the understanding of human functioning, so to see human beings as culturally mediated, always embedded in some activity which has its own tools, it’s own language, it’s own communities. Activity theory in its current stage is very much an approach that tries to radically expand our notion of what is the proper unit of analysis of such processes as learning for instance. Learning is not limited to what happens underneath the skin of an singular individual, but learning should be understood as, and all cognitive processes should be understood as something which is distributed between individuals, their colleagues and their material artifacts, tools, and their semiotic resources, so that you expand the unit of analysis of learning for instance and you start to look at who learns, in a different way. It’s not just the individual but something like a functioning activity system which learns.”)

that may give insights into a minute but essential element of the reality as we think we perceive at this particular moment in time & space.

These thoughts lead me also to think about meditation & prayer, or conversations with God. That’ll be for another time!

Engeström, Y. (2006). Development, Movement and Agency: Breaking away into Mycorrhizae Activities. Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research, University of Helsink, Finland.

Peseschkian, N. (1979). Der Kaufmann und der Papagei. Orientalische Geschichten als Medien in der Psychotherapie. Mit Fallbeispielen zur Erziehung und Selbsthilfe (Nachdruck.). Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag.

Valsiner, J. (2007). Culture in Minds and Societies: Foundations of Cultural Psychology (1er éd.). Sage Publications Pvt. Ltd.

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