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The Truth of Things

July 16, 2010

It’s past midnight. Can’t sleep. Fan whirring incessantly, the rhythm of shifting breeze gently ties into the electronic dreamy pop drifting out of my little glowing laptop. Life feels like a bubble suspended within the pulse of these notes, this air, and that breeze right now, right here. It is the truest thing I can say about this very moment.

Have been suspended in a work haze of late. In between endless stretches of consumed hours, within those precious moments of nothingness, I have been thinking about the truth of things a lot. And the truth is, well…that would be letting you off a little easy now, wouldn’t it? Anyhow, does anyone really know the meaning of that word? It sure gets thrown around a lot. Everyone seeks it in some form or another. True love. True happiness. True friendship. True Blood. True True True. The latter may be the most tangible of them all – real or not, at least it comes in a bottle of selected flavors.

Sometimes I think we are all fooling ourselves. The path we set ourselves upon, toward a goal so intangible, that we may be oblivious even if we ever reach it. And wouldn’t that be truly the saddest thing of all?

Of course, that is the melancholy in me talking. The truth is that I of all people is an undeniable believer of truth – of not only things, but of people. I believe in the truth of innate goodness. I believe in the truth of unbreakable bonds. I believe in the truth of absolute trust. I believe in the truth of raw beauty. I believe in the truth of meant-to-be. And that is the truth of me. Right or wrong. Fantasy or not.

The truth of it is that I don’t think any of us can help it. We pursue some kind of truth because it makes our existence valid, and valiant. The truth of companionship is the witness of our lives, and the truth of it all is that we are all afraid to be alone, and from that fear spawns every form of pleasure-seeking activity, pursuits, and entertainment known to man.

What I do not get is how, if we are so desperate for company of each other, that we can be so unkind to each other, and to the environment that makes it possible for us to live in company together. It is like we are not content to be truly happy unless we know we are capable of draining ourselves of it.

Is it a matter of control? Perhaps the search for truth is too scary, precisely because it is so utterly out of our control. Perhaps that’s why we are simultaneously mystified and terrified.

Perhaps our damage to ourselves is the only thing we can truly do – a self witness of our human capacities, our innate impulses, our physical fragility, and our flawed, fearsome minds.

(The photo above is something I found while walking along the beach in a national marine preservation park near Melbourne, Australia. I have no idea what it is. Behind it are my cousin-in-law, nephew and niece, whom I met for the very first time. The photo below is what I did later that day, and most other days).

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 4:23 AM

    Sometimes I’m convinced that truth is but the quest for truth itself.
    I just read a great quote a few hours ago. I’ll be back with it later today.

  2. July 16, 2010 4:49 AM

    God…Your imagery is spectacular and the truth is once again you pull me back to read you over and over. Yes your writing just excites me.

    “The truth of it is that I don’t think any of us can help it. We pursue some kind of truth because it makes our existence valid, and valiant. The truth of companionship is the witness of our lives, and the truth of it all is that we are all afraid to be alone”

    How true this is Grace and i couldn’t agree with you more, we as human beings do exactly that~

    Julliette or or my ID LarvK is fine too :)

  3. David Evans permalink
    July 16, 2010 4:52 AM

    I feel compelled to write something here and have been thinking about what to say as I stand on the deck of my sister’s house in the Virginia countryside and pet her dogs at 4 in the morning, beneath a dark but star speckled sky. The light from my keyboard-side lamp drifts out through the windows and casts a faint glow on the trees deckside. Is any of that true? It is to me. Sometimes the scenario is mystical, and sometimes the solitude and the blackness are frightening. Both are true, same setting.
    I feel you are in an emotional state between the consensus reality and your own reality. The juxtaposition of those two states, the blending area where they meet breeds melancholy as one can see the delusion of the consensus reality contrasted to the clearer, simpler truths of your own reality, the reality you have always suspected was there but had no reason to pursue, until now.
    Whatever happened to push you closer to your “self” is a gift, although often disguised, and has opened a door for you to pass through. Melancholy is the space we dwell in as we peer into the room ahead and wonder if we should pass through, or close the door and re-embrace the delusions.

    Grace: I love what you said. Although, I think we used to (and probably still do) lock up people who existed too much in their own reality. I think we called them crazy.

    • David Evans permalink
      July 16, 2010 1:57 PM

      I guess the tendency is to overshoot the mark. I did, but came back to a balance between crazy and appearing sane.
      “You never know how far you can go unless you are willing ting to go too far.” Not sure who originally said that but it is true. I think you have to leave the door open as a tether where you can still see the delusional, but are not enmeshed in it, and it is not the only reality you know. I read one time that people who would be considered crazy by today’s standards were, in ancient cultures, sent to the tribal shaman for training in shamanic arts. One person’s crazy is another’s enlightened. Psychotic break or spiritual awakening? Hard to say.

      Grace: Hard to say indeed.

  4. July 16, 2010 7:39 AM

    Can’t find it. I apologise.

    • Grace permalink*
      July 16, 2010 9:57 AM

      Don’t worry about it.

  5. July 16, 2010 9:32 AM

    There’s nothing wrong having grand, intangible goals, so long as you set smaller goals along the way–goals you can achieve in the immediate term, so you don’t judge yourself, at all times, by how far you continue to fall short short of your dreamed-of destiny.

    I used to worry a lot about what was true and untrue. Now I’m more interested in what’s wise or unwise. You have to separate the concepts, because if you don’t, your need to believe something makes you fear, perhaps pointlessly, that it’s untrue. Or worse, it hardens your thinking against critical thought. What’s Creationism, for example, except the need to prove literally a set of stories meant to be metaphorical teaching tools? Accept its tenets, and you miss the point of the story, but you do convince yourself you’re right. Which, as you say, brings the exhilaration of control.

    Setting goals is another means of exerting control. We will all die, and almost all of us know that, so we feel rushed. Goals give us something to aim for, and allow us (we think) to judge the relative importance of tasks, people, and pathways in life. We think that makes us efficient, and sometimes it does. But if we’re unwise, we’ll judge badly. We may even choose a bad goal. And regardless of whether there’s a heaven, hell, cycle of rebirth or Vortex of Nothing awaiting us, spending one’s whole life pursuing the wrong thing is both wasteful and tragic.

    Grace: How does one decide when a goal is bad, or a pursuit wrong? Aren’t those labels just another form of control we exert upon ourselves?

    • July 16, 2010 10:22 AM

      You partly answered that yourself, up top:
      “What I do not get is how, if we are so desperate for company of each other, that we can be so unkind to each other, and to the environment that makes it possible for us to live in company together.”

      A goal is a goal (intangible), but for the individual pursuing it, it is also the sum of his or her pursuits. And if, in the pursuing, you hurt, subvert, disillusion or destroy, you can be fairly certain your goal is a poor one, or at least, your means of achieving it is poor. Wisdom (and I’m not claiming to have much) is what allows you to evaluate. It’s best attained through good teachers and good role models, and we’re all capable of it.

      Of course, you can’t use your wisdom unless you believe that it’s wise, and ‘wise’ is a label, as you say, like ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’ We’re all the children of postmodernism, so we run aground on this point. But I say to you: if a label’s just a label, it’s also a tool, and a powerful one. If we’re aware of our labels-as-labels, but wise enough not to fear them for that reason, then we can use them to control the only thing that’s truly possible to control: ourselves.

      • Grace permalink*
        July 18, 2010 8:06 PM

        You say: “And if, in the pursuing [of a goal], you hurt, subvert, disillusion or destroy, you can be fairly certain your goal is a poor one, or at least, your means of achieving it is poor.”

        I don’t think that being hurt or disillusioned in the pursuit of a goal is necessarily a bad thing, or reflection of poor means. Sometimes, pain and suffering is necessary to pave the road to understanding, to invoke self-reflection, and to motivate. It’s not always the most pleasant way to go, but sometimes it is the most effective, and sometimes the most realistic. I don’t know, maybe that sounds cliche, but I’m always suspicious of those who read some books, go on some journey, and without a scratch or scathing encounter become totally content on their way to enlightenment. I don’t know, maybe life has never worked that way for me, maybe I’ve just seen too much struggle to believe that anything valuable comes easy.

        I think this is a moot point because it’s not like we can control our journeys any more than we can control our destinations. We are running amok on these points because, well, we can. I think the most any of us can control is our intentions – and to that extent, whatever actions that we initiate with those intentions. The rest, as they say, fall where they fall.

      • July 19, 2010 12:03 PM

        I don’t think being hurt or disillusioned in the pursuit of a goal is a bad thing either; it’s certainly happened to me. I was referring to hurting, disillusioning, or manipulating others in the pursuit of one’s goal, which I consider a bad thing, although it probably can’t be avoided in all cases. We all hurt a lot of people in this life, no matter how nice or thoughtful or fair we try to be.

        I too am suspicious of painless paths to enlightenment, especially when they come from books you can’t read for free. ‘The Secret,’ to cite the most profitable example, promises an effortless path to wealth (by whatever sense the reader, already $30 lighter, defines it); readers needn’t make any kind of sacrifice in pursuit of that wealth, because they’re *already* unhappy, and apparently that’s enough. I’ve never read anything so egocentric, and I doubt anyone who fully absorbs ‘The Secret’ could make it through a workday without stepping on someone else’s face. Perhaps literally, because they’re always looking up.

  6. livvyjams permalink
    July 16, 2010 11:24 AM

    I believe in the truth of mutability. As I’ve often said to people, “I reserve the right to change my mind.”

    Change is another word for evolution or adaptability. It doesn’t mean we’re forced to be unkind to each other, but our behaviour is mutable, unstable. And that’s a constant.

    One of the greatest challenges of being in a long-term relationship, I’ve found, is finding a way to evolve together, considering it doesn’t always happen at the same time, at the same rate, or in the same way.

    But that’s what I’ve observed, so I’ve made it my truth. I reserve the right to change my mind about that too.

    • Grace permalink*
      July 16, 2010 12:31 PM

      The truth of mutability, I believe in that too.

      I think sometimes people mistake the evolution of something beautiful as its end, when really, it is just the beginning of another phase. That applies to relationships of any kind. You hit the note on the head. I don’t know if I believe in perfection (another good insomnia topic), but if there ever exists, I would think that perfection is fluid, not stagnant.

      • livvyjams permalink
        July 16, 2010 1:38 PM

        I certainly *hope* it’s fluid. That would at least give us a chance! :-)

  7. July 17, 2010 2:21 AM

    I’m what you could call a “searcher.” I’ve been searching for most of my life for something that, I feel, is missing. What’s funny is that I often find what is missing in moments that have passed. Perhaps that’s how we find meaning in our lives; through the moments, here and there, that make sense, and that help us make sense of why we are here.

    I think our purpose in life is to live. That’s my truth. It may not be your truth. But I’ve come to believe, more and more, that life is its own reason for living. If one could learn for the past, plan for the future, and live in the present, the result will always be full of meaning and joy, but it will also be composed of moments plucked from the vastness of our existences, moments that shine a little brighter, or a little darker, than the rest.

  8. July 18, 2010 3:26 PM

    Whenever I think about truth, the universe and everything, I look to the world’s modern philosophers: British comedian. If I feel down, I think about that scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where you have around six people crucified in the blazing sun and yet are singing “Always look on the bright side of life.”
    Then there is the book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in which an ancient civilization waited millions of years for a supercomputer to tell them the meaning of life, only for the computer to tell them the answer is 42. They had forgotten to ask the meaning of the question.
    I guess what these people are saying is that there is no meaning. No one knows the truth, no one has all the answers, and no secret for happiness. If you have something good going on in your life, good for you. Maybe it’s momentary, maybe not.
    Perhaps if you are happy and you are not making anybody unhappy, maybe that is all the truth you need (and the number 42).

    • July 18, 2010 4:14 PM

      No critique, I just like this comment. I like it a lot. Much more than I like my new shoes.

    • Grace permalink*
      July 18, 2010 7:54 PM

      I was thinking about this for a while, because the simplest answer is probably what you said: there is no meaning. At least, not meaning in the transcending fashion that many of us are led to believe, that social customs tend to preach. But that is so…depressing. But then again, is that so wrong?

      Going off tangent: with everyone so obsessed with being “happy,” is that a natural state of being for us? I mean, who is it to say that an innate melancholy state of existence is any less a valuable way of life than a one’s naturally sunny disposition?

      Your comment reminded me of this quote immediately:

      “I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” — Roger Ebert

      I always thought that this summed up a pretty close to universally pleasant way of living.

      • July 18, 2010 10:05 PM

        Python also teaches us to go with the flow:

        “Bring out your dead!”

        –“I’m still alive!”

        *THWUNK*

      • July 18, 2010 10:20 PM

        Regarding the mood of life, happiness vs. melancholy, it seems that being one or another all the time would be rather boring… and there is value experiencing the complete range of emotions at some point in your life. There was an episode of “Angel” where a man tries to stop time at a perfect moment and Lorne reflects on how tedious even the most perfectly sung note is after a time… it is the variation that makes life an interesting experience.
        As for meaning.. it seems that life has only as much meaning as we ascribe to it.
        I have reached a point where I can see that, ultimately in the scheme of the universe and all that, it doesn’t seem very important. This is at first disappointing because it conflicts with our socialization and preconceived notions about our specialness. After that I realized how liberating that notion is.. if it means nothing then it can mean what I want it to and the only person who measures it is me. I like to have a purpose and once I “got over myself” I found what that is… nothing really earth shattering but sufficient for me. When I get up in the morning I am usually okay with the situation… seldom really happy, seldom ( of late) really sad. And that’s okay.

  9. July 19, 2010 10:07 PM

    Hi Grace.

    I enjoyed your post and the photographs. Evocative & cryptic glimpses of your life and mind.

    There are many truths, I think. The personal truth of our lives as lived so far. The extended truth of our family influences. The communal truths of our culture. Empirical truths. Revealed truths. Many to think about and absorb.

    At this point in my life, truth is not my friend. Nor melancholy my frequent companion. Resignation, more so.

    “I am an old man, filled with regrets, waiting to die” – thematic line from “Inception”

    Okay, I am being melodramatic…sitting here listening to a ponderous thunderstorm shaking out house. :)

    Lovely writing.

    Grace: Nothing wrong with a dose of melodrama every now and then. With thunderstorm best.

  10. July 20, 2010 11:34 AM

    Brilliant, thoughtful musings and phenomenal photography. What more can you ask for?

    Grace: very kind of you Nick.

  11. July 25, 2010 1:31 AM

    Hi Grace.

    My truth this week: photography satisfies something very deep within me!

    New gallery up on Lick Creek Photography photosite, in the featured gallery section.

    New Orleans. Flew in on business Thursday evening, flew out Friday afternoon. Had fun shutterbugging in the off hours in between – both in the French Quarter and out in the marshlands.

    Check it out. Try the slideshow. Leave a comment there if you see one you like.

    • July 25, 2010 3:07 AM

      Randy,
      Those photos are great. The quality and colour, even on my little netbook are awesome. Thanks for the tour.

      • July 25, 2010 11:17 PM

        Thank you, David. I had fun taking those pics. My kind of fun.

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