On Being Honest With Yourself

Honesty towards oneself is difficult. Up until recently I had completely failed to look back on my life and draw honest conclusions about it. It’s difficult because to be honest is to admit that you made the wrong choices, that you are flawed, that you could have done a lot better. Nobody likes to believe that about themselves, it’s way easier to blame some external factor than to admit that you have a huge part to play in all of your failings. The fact is though, unless you are some extremely unfortunate saint, you probably do shoulder most if not all of the blame for your misfortune.

When I was younger I would blame an unequal society that has stacked the deck against me for the fact that I am not as successful as someone of my intelligence should be. The reality is though, I didn’t try hard at school, I choose to persue further education in a field that is unlikely to get me a high paid job, I was far more interested in smoking marijuana than I was in my higher education career, I dropped out of university because I was too stoned and couldn’t be bothered, I didn’t try half as hard as I could have to find a job after dropping out. At every single point I made a choice that would negatively affect my future self. I used to blame society for not valuing people with a different outlook. That’s not true, society does value different outlooks, just not the outlook of lazy stoned angst. It’s easy to resent the world for where I am today, but every single step on the road to this point was a poor decision on my part.

It’s hard to swallow that, but it is the truth. It does have some positivity to it though. In realising that I was in control of all the poor decisions I made, I also realised that I am in control of all the future choices that present themselves to me. I’m not just a pinball in a malevolent game that is out to destroy me, I’m a conscious agent, capable of making choices that will benefit my future self. As soon as I realised this I was transformed.

I looked at my relationship with cannabis and realised that excessive consumption of the drug was linked to most of the poor choices in my life. It wasn’t easy to accept this because I fucking love being stoned, but since then I haven’t bought any (although I admit to occasionally having a puff if a joint is passed my way). I feel more in control, and more motivated.

I realised that my job isn’t beneath me, that I shouldn’t resent where I am because I put myself here. Since then my mood at work has improved dramatically, despite having to work most weekends so far this year. People have been asked to do far worse things. My job is alright, I was just being pathetic and whiny about it.

I realised that I can control my weight. That eating large bags of crisps to comfort myself was not a path to a body that I am happy with. I have lost 3 stone and counting since Christmas. I have never felt more confident about my body.

The act of self deception with regards to responsibility is something that removes our ability to exert control over ourselves. If everyone else is to blame for where you are then everyone else is to blame for where you end up. That is a lie. You are in control. Realising that is a double edged sword, it means that you own your mistakes, but you can also do something about rectifying them.

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On dancing birds and space aliens

Earlier on today I was walking through some trees and I saw a blackbird ahead of me. It was standing beside a plant, and it appeared to be swaying it’s body back and forth while keeping it’s legs perfectly straight. Strange. I’d never seen a blackbird do a weird dance before. It confused me briefly, until I realised that it was simply a black dog-shit bag caught on a weed. For a split second my brain had glitched out and I had perceived a dancing bird. This kind of misinterpretation is commonplace, but this time the flip between that perception and the more accurate one was tangible. Like when the optician flicks between the different lenses during an eye test.

The moment was perhaps more profound because of it’s synchronicity with what I was thinking about. I had read about Tim Leary and Robert Anton Wilson’s reality tunnels, which basically describes how one’s beliefs and preconceptions inform our different perceptions of the same world. You have the Marxist view on reality, and the capitalist view for instance. Both describe the same world in very different terms. Individuals within those reality tunnels would perceive their reality based upon these views. I was thinking of it more like a lens. A barrier that bends and filters the information that is received based on certain preconceptions. I then had a flash of realisation, perhaps the archetype of the all-seeing eye is not necessarily a symbol for omniscience but rather the lensless eye. The level of consciousness that perceives reality as a universe filtered through a crystalline multifaceted lens of individual subjective experience. Nobody experiences reality as it is, only as their consciousness perceives it. This is almost always through various lenses, or reality tunnels. The all seeing eye is the eye that sees this.

With that realisation manifesting inside me, the saw the dancing bird. Later I was contemplating another similar, interesting thing that happened. I was recently laughing with my partner about how I had totally mistaken the name of the funeral parlour next door to our house for the best part of a year, despite walking past it almost every day. I had got it confused with another funeral parlour on the other side of the city that has a similar name, and just never bothered to look at the sign until recently. Some might say that maybe this was the Mandela effect, that I had somehow travelled into a parallel universe where the funeral parlour had a different name. I didn’t physically travel anywhere of course, however I did transverse between my reality where the funeral parlour was called A to my updated reality where it was called B. So far as I was concerned, before I had corrected my mistake I lived in a universe in which it was called funeral parlour A.

Another thing that comes to mind is something that happened to me a few years ago. I was walking home from a friends house in the early hours of the morning and I saw, in the constellation of shadows and foliage against a fence, the form of a stereotypical grey alien. For a moment I was terrified, for my brain had successfully tricked me, and I could feel my preconceptions being challenged. Of course as I approached the illusion broke, as it did with the bag. But what if I had turned and gone a different way home? How different would my reality be? Would I now be convinced that aliens have visited earth? If I had gone a different way and not got a closer look at the bag would I now believe I had seen a blackbird behaving in an uncharacteristically weird way? Or if I moved without ever bothering to look at the sign for the funeral parlour again properly, would I have etched the wrong name into my memories of the place? I might have continued on in this false reality believing my perception to be complete and accurate.

We all filter the universe through a different set of beliefs and biases. If you ever encounter someone with frustratingly opposing views to your own, just remember that to them that is reality. They are in their tunnel and you are in yours.