Thursday, February 24, 2011

there is no objective truth. or something.

My Truth    

This is an essay that I wrote in October 2009, and I think it was for a class assignment. I had forgotten about it until I was looking for meaning in my Google Docs. I think there's some pretty neat stuff in it,  despite the embarrassing. I miss when I was forced to write essays about my feelings for class. I do this thing where I talk about "truth" but then I talk about "my truth," which is really more an area of principle.

What is truth? This seems like a rather heady question. To me, truth is many things. It is something that is profoundly individual, although it is unequivocally universal. My father says, “Truth is the accordance between thoughts and actions.” This definition seems rather absolute. But to me, truth is neither absolute nor definitive.
We spend a lot of time chasing the truth. Scientists are forever in quest of answers to lingering questions, students look for the “right” answer, and journalists look for irrefutable, objective fact. As people, we want to know who and what we are. But is the truth what we think, or is the truth what we see and are able to measure? I know now that there is a difference between the facts and the truth.
I went through a phase during which I was disgusted by liars, posers, phonies and fakers (this was during middle school when people actually used these words), and decided that I, at least, would only tell the truth. And I went a good two years, never telling a "lie," but I wasn't entirely righteous in so doing. I found out that you could leave out parts of stories without "lying."  You could tell the truth without capturing what really happened. This type of lying was factual, but it was dishonest. It led me to see the difference between a fact and the truth.
A lie, I found, is when you don't believe yourself when you say something. I called in sick in high school a couple of times. According to my definition of the truth, I could've called in sick on any day; with my tainted immune system, I was always down with something or another. But if I hadn't done the homework, or if I was emotionally fatigued, that would be the day that I thought calling in sick was justified. Though I actually did feel sick in theory, it was no more unbearable than it was the day before: I used this "truth" to my advantage in a way that here can be deemed dishonest. Here my father's definition applies; my actions and thoughts were misaligned. But doing this too many times eats at your insides and makes you feel stupid when you have to explain what's wrong with you. The guilt of getting away with it always punished me more than any kind of reprimand.
This episode and others like it have convinced me that truth cannot be decided by another for you. Your truth is very much linked to the way you feel. As long as you are not lying to yourself about why you are committing an action, being truthful is not always contingent upon the facts. Sometimes you may have to pretend a little to save yourself from social disaster or to keep yourself going.  You may act like you're happy when really you're terribly distressed. Sometimes you'll have to leave out the facts to better someone else's day. But in these cases, you are still acting according to your own ideals and being some type of truthful.
After I had this little epiphany, I decided that I could still be an honest person, without being a self-righteous fact-monger. I just knew that I would not act in a way that would force me to say something that I did not really agree with. It is always more embarrassing to have to explain the fact that you've lied than to own up to the truth. And it is much better to have someone's trust than to have someone's misplaced sympathy.
To keep myself honest, I make sure that I am the same person everywhere. Though I may fill different roles, I would be untrue to myself if I said one thing and did another. I try to avoid letting myself become resentful towards others without seeing what their point of view is. If I am really not okay with what someone does, I let them know, rather than letting the pressure build up inside like a soda that's been shaken up.
When I am in the midst of a dichotomy, and I don't know what I believe, I take some time. I listen to music, I talk to friends, and most importantly, I write down the way I feel and how I would feel if it were happening to a friend. In this way, I can make a decision as to how I feel, and what I should do. In doing this, I discover and seek my own truth. I look at my problems in more diverse ways and learn from the mistakes of others. The more I grown and learn, the less I think that the truth is a "one size fits all" formula.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

becoming real

so my little brother is marching in protest of scott walker's budget cuts that directly affect state employees.
his school-day was canceled because so many teachers are protesting. this whole thing is just making me think of revolutions and rebellions... i'm so proud of the people who are not taking this sitting down. regardless of politics, i think there's something to be said about a unified effort.
but that's all i want to say about that.

i have changed so much in the previous year, ideologically, philosophically, physically and morally, and it's probably good. i've become way more critical and cognizant of complexity, and the lack of simple solutions in the world. i've left this purposefully vague, because it's happened in all areas of life, not just in one sphere.

i know it's really lame to be like blahblahblah i've changed, i've grown. it's cliché. but for some reason, when it happens to you, it feels so specific, like an enzyme binding to an active state, where you are the substrate and the active site is college and the enzyme is your situation.

i don't know about anyone else, but when i got to college, i kind of liked myself: i liked good music, i had good friends, i knew what general causes i wanted to work toward, i could sing, i had skills that i built up in high school like writing. i felt like this being that i am wouldn't really change, like i was just done. a finished product. but of course i wasn't. sometimes i worry that if i continue to change so much, i might just come out on the other side of life as a completely different me than the one that came in.

a huge difference is that i've become so much more aware of my biases, my underlying assumptions about others and myself. i used to think that everyone was more or less the same as me. i thought they had the same internal dialogue, because i'd always kind of held this simplistic notion growing up that any two people could be friends if they met under the right circumstances, that people were pretty much the same underneath everything. i still kind of feel that way, you can't really help it if you've thought that way for so long.

do you ever finding yourself mentally dividing your personal history into eras? some parts of my life i actually refer to (in my head) with made-up divisions like "the musical renaissance circa 8th grade." 
maybe no one cares but me, but i've grown to laugh at my own jokes.

in the post-postmodern existential overhaul era, i've finally realized that people are different from me. and not just in superficial, external ways, but in fundamental ones too. in fact, they could be the same as me in so many ways, they could listen to the same music as me and read the same books and frequent the same web sites and places, but they can still be different. it all depends on your level of analysis.

and i'm not trying to say that this is bad. it's really, really good, actually. it allows me to see the world through different eyes by learning from the experiences of others, by listening to their reactions and take-away lessons. but sometimes... it can be a little disconcerting that everyone is different from you in big ways. it means that there probably isn't someone who just understands about everything. we all have to communicate really effectively to get our points of view heard. 

in light of the fact that everyone i know's differences have been emerging forthrightly before mine eyes, i think i've finally come to realize the joy of my own company. no one in this world will care more about what i have to say than i do. no one will enjoy the songs i write more than me or feel them the way i intended them more than i can. and no one has more control of my destiny than i do. i can sit around and wait for someone who will appreciate how cool i am, and how i think, or i can be that person. i can rely on me, and make my own happiness.

and i think, for the first time in my life, in spite of everything that tends to go wrong—that has been going wrong—i'm really happy.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

don't leave me dry

i might be receding into my shell. i'm not really an introvert, but i feel like i've definitely withdrawn from a lot of people i know. i don't know if it is a tangible change or just a mental one. maybe some part of me just has nothing to look forward to anymore. 

i'm not depressed or anything. i just feel alone and i've kind of lost the will to do anything to reduce alone-ness. i like being alone, and i think i got this way because i really like being alone.

but i also feel like the world has changed around me. while i've been alone, other people in my life have grown together, resulting in my further isolation. i do it to myself.

in some cases, i feel like it's better to withdraw than to face the fact that other people have the ability to hurt me, whether they know it or not. this is the other face to the "you get to choose who you see in college" coin. it's really easy to shut people out if you don't want to see them.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

some things i wish

i wish that you could tell someone something by incepting a thought in their mind. perchance i wanted my parents to bring me some mexican candy, and instead of having to come out and say that i want them to get it the next time they go shopping, the thought just occurs to them. and then they do it. or don't do it. but i know that it's been incepted.
i also wish that you could meet the people whose libraries you are listening to when you find a good music library on a shared network in a public place. i wish there was some way you could end up meeting and it would be awesome because then they'd show you music, and you could show them music in a mutualistic way.
i wish you could meet your heroes outside of the context that they are your heroes. you could learn about them, but not from afar. when you know what you admire about someone before you really know them, it's always kind of weird. the way the world usually works is that you meet someone and then you realize why they're important. but with heroes, it's the other way around, and things are really awkward. everytime i meet a hero, i always sound silly and young and naive, because there's no way they could know how they've impacted me, and they know nothing of me.
one of my heroes

#16.3-My Brightest Diamond-Hymne...
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i wish my room would change colors with the state of my mind, i wish i could create art of my own imaginings. i wish i could read poetry in every language.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

most people like weak milky coffee

please don't laugh at me but i think i have a crush on malcolm gladwell. he seems like the type of man i'd want to marry because he talks about interesting things, and what do you know, i'm one of those people who actually likes people who talk a lot. 

it is my recommendation that you watch this, which is a TED talk that gladwell did about how we don't know what we want, and how people have different preferences, and how embracing these diversities in taste will lead to more happiness. it's very funny and interesting. this and another video about time perspectives prompted me to order books on amazon at 1 AM last night. i ordered the tipping point... which i may or may not already own, now that i think about it, and the paradox of time, and the geography of time, which are novels by malcolm gladwell, phillip zimbardo, and robert levine, respectively. i figure i'm going to be alone for a while (not because of anything, but because this is the nature of my quotidian experience.)

i think i might pretend to want to be a writer for a while, and write stuff for myself, because that's kind of how i imagined college would be for me. this isn't really much of a post, but a thought i've been having. i think it's time for me to really challenge my own beliefs and put all this thinking i do to good use.