Circumstantial Life: Circumscribing and Circumventing

We cannot circumvent circumstances. They are always surrounding our life. We think that they are needless adjuncts that populate our actions, facts, events and life in general. They are viewed as circumstantial to life and as such are deemed as subordinate details largely non-essential to events, actions, facts and life. We cannot circumvent circumstance in this manner. They are part of our life in a constitutive way. They stand around and bind events and actions to their contexts. They complete the circle of conditions of possibilities of those events and actions. We can also think of them as conditions of the impossibility of those events and actions. We cannot trivialize, de-consequalize and neutralize circumstances. They cannot be thought of as doing nothing to life. Life is marked by circumstances. We cannot live life in abstraction and bracket ourselves from the circumstances of life. Life breathes and flourishes in our circumstances. We are inscribed into our circumstances. There is no zero point or God’s point far removed from circumstances to live our life. We are already immersed in the dynamic dance of circumstances. We live life in the middle of circumstance. They interpellate us and call us into being. We are addressed and held answerable by them. Life is circumstantial. There is no life outside its circumstances. We are always in dialogue with circumstances. The kind of circumstances may vary but we cannot be outside our circumstances. Life becomes what it is for us in our dialogue with circumstances. Circumstances often determine the direction of our life.

Life also departs from circumstance and embrace other circumstances. Circumstances, therefore, fail to fully account for our life. This is because of our freedom. We are always free to move to other circumstances. There are also other circumstances that find us. Life is circumstantially complex and cannot be fully totalized. Our freedom ensures that we can leap ahead of the circumstances. We are never fully under the circumstance. We have an ability to simultaneously be with and free ourselves from our circumstances. No circumstances can nail us down. They only offer occasions and possibilities to transcend them and shape our beings in the world. We are therefore immersed as well as free from the circumstances. We are paradoxically circumscribing as well as circumventing circumstances at the same time. This means we are never fully circumcised by circumstances. But we cannot fully understand our life outside our circumstances. Circumstances are not on the other side of life, siding against us. They are on our side and siding for us. To this extent, life continues to be circumstantial. We are always circumstantially found. Life comes to us in our circumstances. Change of circumstances makes way for more life to come. Life, therefore, is circumstantial through and through and is always in a tensive relation with its circumstances circumscribing, circumventing but not circumcising itself. We co-sign life with our circumstances. Circumstances are co-signatories with us. Life, therefore, is fully circumstantial.

There is the singularity in the manner in which we circumscribe, circumvent and resist being circumcised by circumstances. No two persons in similar circumstance circumscribe, circumvent and resist being circumcised by circumstances in the same way. There is uniqueness in the manner we respond back to life and its circumstances. We circumvent and resist being circumcised by circumstances of our life circumstantially. This means we are both bound and unbound by circumstances. In some real way, we bind ourselves to circumstances by unbinding ourselves. This is where our circumventing and resistance to circumstances is also circumscribing. Somewhere all the three belong together and we are challenged to think them together. Our life is circumstantial and we have ciruminscribed our life through our circumstances by our circumscription, circumvention and resistance to circumcision. Hence we are circumcised as well as uncircumcised by our circumstances. We fully live a circumstantial life. Circumstances interrupt/disrupt/ disorient and orients life. But we do not fully submit to our circumstances. We have the freedom to circumvent and resist circumcision to circumstances. We circumscribe into the circumstances but are never enslaved by them. This does not mean that we are freed from the underlying circumstances of life. They remain ephemeral and only those who have eyes to see can see them. Being circumstantial, we are still masters of our life. We do not lose our agency to circumstances. In some way, the circumstances also circumvent and resist their complete circuminscription into our life. Circumstances and us thus have a way of cancelling as well as enhancing each other. We live in the middle of circumstances. We have our life and being in the middle of circumstances.

We still live between and beyond this life making circumstances. This is why circumstances are everything and nothing. They both do as well as do nothing to us. They are witnesses of the drama of life. They participate in it in a withdrawn manner. We are both shaped and not shaped by our circumstances. Life still remains circumstantial. This is why we cannot write off circumstances. They illumine life for us. They tell the story of events and actions. But their story always remains in the coming never fully complete. This is why we have the challenge to affirm circumstances and not dismiss them. They do not contaminate life. They proliferate life. They produce our yes to life. There is hope for life in the circumstances of life. They hold a promising future for life. They inhabit our life and are not other to life. They are on the side of life. We have the challenge to think them on the side of life. Being on the side of life they are siding for life. They are not siding against life. This is why we have to think together circumstances and life. They are intimately proximate and extimately at a distance to our life. We have to take responsibility to ciruminscribe the circumstantial in our life. We can circuminscribe the circumstantial through our circumscribing and circumventing and by resisting tendencies to be circumcised by life.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao