Starting From Where You Are

Human nature fascinates me. Our place in the universe fascinates me. On the whole, we’re a fairly smart species. We’ve evolved into complex, innovative creatures that have altered our physical world (whether this is good or bad is a matter of constant debate). Yet, for all of our brilliance, we have an almost uncanny ability to delude ourselves. Study after study has proven that we believe ourselves, on an individual basis, to be smarter than we actually are. Or that we are better looking than we actually are. We often overestimate our abilities and underestimate how difficult or long a task will take. And, when someone fucks up, we attribute it to incompetence or malice (Sheila is a lazy asshat) but when we find ourselves in the same scenario, we attribute the fuck up to the circumstances or our environment (If Sheila had just gotten the TPS report in on time!).

I’m fascinated with how self-deceiving we allow ourselves to become. I’m also horribly afraid that that same self-deception is being wrought on a global scale. Take for instance the delusion that climate change is a hoax, that humans cannot affect nature or the weather. Or the delusion that immigrants are what is turning America into a boiling cesspool of lazy, no-good criminals and rapists. I’m scared that our base instincts (I am good, the others are bad) are keeping us from seeing what is real and true. I’m scared that solipsistic tweets and Insta-everything are masking real issues. That our modus operandi is to create businesses valued in the billions of dollars for serving filtered ads based on where you visit and what you like, prompting a buying frenzy when debt continues to pile on. And then we, as individuals, take no accountability for our actions and blame unseen corporate actors.

And, I’m afraid that I am just as human and fallible as everyone else.

One of the issues causing me angst over the past few months is the realization that I may not see where I’m truly at. I’m not starting from where I am. Am I viewing who I am and where I am (physically, career-wise, life-wise) through the proverbial rose-colored glasses or am I seeing myself as I truly am? Is my situation more untenable than my optimistic, default human behavior leads me to believe?

This is important; to see things as they truly are. I don’t want to delude myself into thinking things are the way I want them to be. I don’t want to view any situation through the filter of me. I want an objective, truthful view so that I can make informed and deliberate decisions. Once I have an objective view, I can then filter the different possible outcomes through the sieve of my values and hopes and desires. But I’ve got to start from a real, concrete, and verifiable place.

The problem is, as I wrote above, that I’m human and fallible. I’m going to still make mistakes thinking that I’m smarter, better-looking, over-confident in my abilities and believe I’ll move through a situation quicker than it’ll actually take. Oh, and it’ll be someone else’s fault should I fuck it all up. How can I make better decisions based on facts—not emotions—with the knowledge that I’m going to come at them from a bad starting point? It’s almost enough to cause paralysis!

I’m obsessed with starting with the truth, no matter how painful, uncomfortable, or difficult to bear. I have a hard time with delusions, especially willful ones. I have a hard time when people deliberately disregard truth and facts. I only hope that my frustration with the sanguine nature of our base selves aids in seeing the situation for what it truly is. To see it in it’s stark, naked reality. Truth is never a bad thing.

Because, the other human trait that fascinates me, the one I believe to be the most important of all human traits, is resilience. Our ability to adapt and change and cope with difficulties is, by far, the most important aspect in our collective humanity. If the decisions I make are clouded with optimistic, delusional “facts,” knowing that I have the resilience to handle the outcome, no matter how dire, gives me some comfort.

But maybe I’m being delusional that I have that sort of strength, eh?