The truth shall set you free

They say that the truth shall set you free.

I’m not sure about that. I’ve been thinking about the difference between Truth, Facts, and Reality. It’s kind of interesting actually.

Some people believe that the Truth is infallible. Truth being defined as what is, what exists without question. I don’t think this is necessarily the case.

I think that when you’re talking about what is indisputable, it would be more accurate to talk about Facts and what is factual. Facts are the only thing that can’t be disputed. they are pieces of information that are accurate. They are Factual.

Bear Facts (film)

Bear Facts (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reality also isn’t as definitive as we sometimes assume. People live in their own reality. It’s real and honest to them, but it may not be that way to other people. So it isn’t something we can say is factual.

I think the trickiest thing here is Truth. I think it’s possible to have a Truth that isn’t factual. You can’t know that though. If you exist and believe in a place that you understand to be honest and factual, that is your Truth. You see no problems with the validity of this. It’s possible to be missing some of the Facts though. This could cause your Truth to not be factual.

I know that  it’s mostly all semantics, but it was just something interesting that was bouncing around my head. We use some of these words to all mean indisputable, but in actuality, Reality can be altered, and Truth can be uninformed.

Just something to ponder.

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Fate! Destiny!

So I was watching How I Met Your Mother again,(what? It’s a good show.) and the concept of destiny(and an amusing joke about a stripper named Destiny) or fate came up. The show was talking about these concepts as they relate to a relationship. Were 2 people being thrown together by the universe because they were somehow ‘meant to be together’? As usual, this sort of thing gets me thinking.

Man thinking on a train journey.

Man thinking on a train journey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My pondering had less to do with the relationship version of it all. I’m a happily married guy. The Wife keeps me in line and takes care of me; in return I… well there’s something that I do and I’ll have to let you know if I figure it out. I was more thinking about how the concept of destiny/fate applies to my belief that everything happens for a reason. I know I mentioned this, briefly, before and I may have even indicated that I wasn’t specifically referring to fate.

I tend to think of ‘everything happens for a reason’ in a very broad, general, and non-specific fashion. It’s something I think about to try to keep from dwelling on bad things happening or good things not happening. I know that I am a blessed person. Things may not always go just the way I want, but I have very little to complain about. Things have gone alright for me. This is what I use as a sort of baseline to indicate to myself that ‘things will work out alright, everything happens for a reason.’

If I stop to think about all of it, I start to get to a place that I’m not sure if I want to be. Am I destined for anything? If I am, am I okay with that? Maybe it isn’t as specific as ‘you will end up a doctor.’ Even if it is as general as ‘you will have kids,’ am I okay with that being the course for my life no matter what? I am able to take solace in the fact that when something doesn’t go my way, I feel like there was a reason for that and it will work out eventually. Without knowledge of what that reason is, am I okay being steered in a direction without my input?

It also tend to lead me to thoughts of “The Universe” as some sort of entity with plans and something that uses signs as indicators. Is this something I should be thinking about when major changes happen? Should I look for signs and be less concerned with things not working out immediately? I would hate to hamstring myself because I was busy waiting and reacting to “The Universe” instead of being proactive.

That being said, I’m not always an exceptionally proactive person(insert joke about anything including the word’active’ here). I tend to be the kind of person who just continues along a path until a crossroad appears and I’m forced to make a decision. Rarely am I the type to pick the direction or destination and just set off through the woods to get there.

So at the end of the day, I being to wonder if I should be happy about everything happening for a reason. I wonder if destiny/fate plays a role in my life. If it does, how flexible are the steps and the results? Am I alright with this? Does it matter if I’m alright with it? Should I be paying attention for signs? Worry about ‘Putting things out into the Universe”?

I may never know, but I do know that telling myself ‘everything happens for a reason’ still makes me feel better when things aren’t going quite right.

An Exercise in Frustration

There’s something about the Human Mind that forces us to act irrationally and participate in thought patterns that serve no purpose.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just the other day, I wrote about my bad habit of getting too caught up in nostalgia. Well, I was watching an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” and it brought me back to a topic I’d previously discussed with a friend of mine: What If?

‘What If? -ing’ is just a hypothetical version of nostalgia. You take a time or turning point in your life an attempt to extrapolate it out into an entirely alternate reality. It can be a fun little exercise or diversion sometimes, but most of the time it’s just an exercise in frustration.

I think it’s pretty obvious that as I said before, there’s no way to ever try to recreate those previous circumstances. There’s no way ever know what would have actually happened because so many different things can affect our personalities and experiences that there’s no way control the environment. Sometimes all that ‘What If? -ing’ just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

It can be such a dangerous little rabbit hole to fall into. By engaging in the very exercise, you start with a morbid kind of curiosity, or worse a dissatisfaction at your current circumstances. That means that everything you think about will be colored with an idea that “everything would have been better with just this one little change.” You’re setting yourself up for more disappointment at your current situation and and extra helping of frustration at your inability to actually know if that is what would have happened.

Which brings me to the real thought that got me interested enough to post about this: Do you really want to know? That was the twist in the television episode I watched. You can ask ‘What If?’ as much as you want. Sometimes, there’s an actual answer to that question. Sometimes there’s a reason that you didn’t make a different choice. You might not want to know that reason.

That’s the problem with asking too many hypothetical questions and always examining every little detail of your life: sometimes you might not like the answer. I’m sure that there are times when we might need a jolt like this to make a proactive major change. There are more times when it might cause you to open a Pandora’s Box of problems that needn’t have ever been touched again.

This is the sort of thing that is hard to remember when you have an active imagination. ‘What If? -ing’ seems like it would all be in good fun. You have source material, personal experience, and lots of curiosity. “What could it hurt?” you think. It’s a hard activity to avoid.

Just something to consider the next time you catch yourself thinking ‘What If?’ You might just be in for more disappointment. More importantly, do you really want to know the answer and the reason?

One of Those Moments

Do you ever have one of those moments where the sun seems a little bit brighter, colors seem a little bit richer and everything slows down for a moment?

Grass

Grass (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

I had a moment the other day where that happened. I was doing one of my least favorite activities, mowing the lawn, and the world slowed down for a split second. I looked around and the grass suddenly seemed greener than I’ve ever seen actual grass, and the sunshine sparkled as it beamed across a clear blue patch in the cloudy sky.

Maybe it was a trick of the light on a relatively cloudy day. Maybe it was the polarized sunglasses. Maybe I hit a natural harmonic with the music I was listening to.

Maybe it was just one of those rare moments where something unexplainable happened. I just happened to notice this time. It was an instance that recalls a certain Bueller that we all know and love, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Some times I think that happens without our taking an active part in it. Sometimes I think it happens more often than we realize, but we weren’t there at the right time or looking at the right angle just then. It could be a moment that stops and starts again with a whisper of wind in the cool autumn air. It could be just the right moment as a wave crashes onto the shore. Whatever it is on that day at that time, catch it.

If you feel that moment tugging at your consciousness, let yourself be pulled. Little hesitant moments like that carry so much more meaning than they seem at the time. It’s a second where the world stops turning, where everything pauses and you get and extra moment to exist. It’s a moment that is free from everything around you.

Then just as quickly, it flits away. Don’t let yourself miss them. try to pay attention to that little dip in time and perception. It’s like a skip in a record or a CD that kingd of drops and picks back up. It’s noticeable, you just have to be waiting.

Who Am I?

I’m not talking about some crazy existential, quarter-life crisis here. I just mean, who am I, really?

English: A name label. (Hello, my name is...)

English: A name label. (Hello, my name is…) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it’s a natural desire to try to classify everything. We label things. It helps us to make sense of all the information that we process on a daily basis. People label and group, arrange and organize. Some people are more inclined than others, and some are better at it than the rest of us.

It’s not about judging people, although that happens all too often. It’s about our natural tendency to group things into more manageable information chunks. It’s part of why stereotypes resonate with us and why we find ourselves believing them without much reference information to back them up. What really intrigues me is how we try to do this to ourselves.

It starts with cliques and groups in school. We try to figure out “where we belong” and we tend to gravitate toward people with perceived common characteristics. We think its as simple as aiming for the lowest common denominator, but it’s really about trying to classify ourselves. We’re trying to label and group ourselves. It doesn’t stop in school though.

We tend to find like groups to identify with. Then we start giving ourselves labels and titles. Especially as we become adults. It makes things easier we think. We can speed up social interactions by identifying with certain groups, which will communicate information to other people very quickly.

I could tell people that I am a Sports Fan, I  am a Gamer, a Reader, and I am a Creative. I’ve just attempted to sum up the entirety of my 28 years in 4 classifications. Because it’s easier, right? We all try to find what labels we can give ourselves that are the most descriptive. It saves some of the messier questions. It gives dedicated topics and lines of inquiry that I am comfortable talking in depth about.

What I have really done is tried to simplify who I am. I have tried to compress myself into 4 little boxes for you and for me. Because it’s easier than opening myself up to scrutiny, whether from you or from me. Because we don’t really want other people to know, do we? More to the point, we don’t want ourselves to know, do we?

It’s much easier to call myself those things than it is to tell people about things that really matter. If I were to talk about things that really made me who I am, that really had a profound effect on my life, it would be more uncomfortable. I would have to tell people about how my mother died when I was 9, and how I’m not sure I ever made peace with that, or if I even know how to. I would have to tell people that I don’t know how different my life would have been if I hadn’t had a degenerative hip disease that resulted in a hip replacement that always has, and continues to, limit my physical activity. I would have to tell people about how my constant need for approval consistently puts me in a position where I’m not acting from a place of comfort and confidence, but rather a place of fear and doubt.

See? People don’t really want to hear those things. I’m not sure if I want to dig at those things. It’s much easier to try to label yourself, isn’t it?

Think about it. Think what you tell people, and then think about what really makes you who you are.

Try, just a little. Try sharing a small piece of that with someone close to you, or someplace like a blog. You might find it’s more meaningful that just being another “Sports Fan.”

Over-think this!

I’m an over-thinker. It’s one of those things that I can’t really control sometimes.

Cover of "What If? Classic Vol. 1 (Marvel...

Cover of What If? Classic Vol. 1 (Marvel Heroes)

Since I tend to focus on the negative,(I’m working on it, chill) what ends up happening is my brain goes to a “Worst Case Scenario” kind of place, and runs with some pretty terrible ideas. I’ve read that Humans are the only species to not only focus on “What-If” type scenarios, but that our minds can’t distinguish between the thoughts of it happening and the actual experiences of it happening. This results in people(me especially) creating situations in which we’re as stressed out by the concept of something bad happening to us as we would be if it actually happened. I don’t have to experience, let’s say loosing my job, to know about the level of mental distress it would cause. I only have to sit down and think really hard about what would happen.

Since I am a freaking PRO at this, I sometimes get myself in an overwhelmingly negative place based on nothing more that speculation. I also tend to be a little hyperactive so my brain kinda starts making serious leaps of logic.

Here’s a for instance: I have a really bad day at work. So I start to think about how I want to get a different job. Well then I think how hard it is for me to look at job listings and get information sent out around work. So I decide it would be better if I quit my job first. Then I would have lots of time to apply other places. Unfortunately, that means I’m not bringing any money in. Then we would be hurting for money. What if I couldn’t find anything else? What if even fast food places and restaurants aren’t hiring? How many months could we go? Would I be able to get my old job back? Then they would resent me for trying to leave in the first place. The Wife would be disappointed that I had to go back to my old job. She would never see me as capable of providing for us. She would see me as a terrible husband.

That was just a small for instance, but you see how it gets out of hand quickly inside my head? The end thought that I get stuck with and start focusing on there is: I’m not a capable provider and a bad husband. The Wife could do better. That’s a really destructive and negative place to be stuck. I don’t want to be thinking that, and it’s a pretty long way removed from the original “Work sucked today”.

The problem is that while that sort of thought process doesn’t happen all the time, it’s a pretty quick decent to a pretty dark place. It can happen with any thought at any time, but since I sometimes lean towards being a little more negative it happens with negative emotions a little more frequently.

I’m not actually feeling like this about anything right at the moment. My recent writing renaissance has helped me quite a bit in that regard, I feel. I just happened to be pondering this morning about this here blog and I felt like I needed to explore my negative over-thinking a little bit.

Is this something the rest of you do? Did you know that Human beings are the only species that can’t emotionally distinguish between thoughts and experiences?