Occasionally, it has been observed in the past that those with a passion for mysteries may, with time, seem to resemble aspects of the enigmas that fascinate them. It is the nature of any mystery, after all, to appear ambiguous at times. Hence, those individuals, like myself, whose interests span a diverse order of subjects may begin to draw curiosity from those around them, along with occasional critiques by those who can’t quite pin them down as being the particular “this or that” they are expected to be.
It is certainly the nature of man, after all, to try and force his peers into intellectual holes of, say, rectangular shape, despite their having a rounded structure. Whatever it is we perceive, we project that onto others around us, and in doing so, often fool ourselves into believing that what we’ve guessed about reality before us is real and true, based solely on what our ever-fallible senses have observed.
In probing this idea a bit more deeply, I resort here to using myself as an example, as it can be argued that one knows themselves best of all, and thus can more accurately interpret their own various shades, rather than those of anyone else. In self reflecting in this way, we can often learn things about ourselves; hence, here I’ll examine a bit of the dichotomy that exists between various aspects of my personal and public identity, and the different reactions derived from each.
I will begin with my profession as a musician; within the sphere of my cohabitation in the music world, people often see in me a fellow who leaps on stage, performs long sets of material (often without breaks) with a fine band that features a variety of acoustic songs, ranging from Beatles and Grateful Dead, to bluegrass and country, as well as jazz standards and some contemporary material. I take requests all night on such occasions, and generally like to engage the audience, working hard to present an enjoyable, but equally florid musical experience.
To the walls, windows, and the items set about tables and corners throughout my home, I think they might shudder if the same level of volume and energy others see on stage ever were brought here. My home is a quiet place, and I am a quiet person when I am within it.
Introverted is one word that comes to mind… people laugh when I tell them this. Obviously, they know me better than I know myself; interestingly, many who see the band and I perform have no knowledge of my work as a writer and researcher.
It is here, in the writing and research community, for instance, that I involve myself in research pertaining to various assorted subjects, and as any writer might hope to be, I put effort behind being truthful, but non-polarizing in my written estimations. Often, this draws attention from those who find my attitudes too skeptical, and in contrasting, but equal measures, there are others who find my skepticism too lacking, and espouse that attempting to apply a deep line of thought to matters based on items of conjecture and speculation (whether those fall under subjects of politics, history, science, unexplained mysteries, or whatever else) amounts to being a fruitless and wasteful endeavor.
As far as ideology goes, I always try to carry myself respectfully, and espouse a centrist philosophy. This is often mistaken for being “undecided” or simply “trying to please all parties.” I find this to be ignorant thinking, and these individuals have no idea, nor apparent comprehension, of how there can be experiential reasons for political and ideological centrism/moderation. If you worked for six years in talk radio as a producer of both progressive liberal and conservative talk shows, and independently spent enough time studying the views and philosophies of both sides, attitudes such as mine would probably become easier to understand.
It is possible to hold views that are both liberal and conservative, especially if one accepts that the primary political parties in America today more often adopt causes, rather than actually representing them, as this helps ensure votes from large swaths of the public to whom these interests cater best. Those interests do not belong to the parties, nor the ideologies, and each, if warranted, can be of importance by itself.
I believe one can be a “critic” without being unnecessarily critical; I believe one can be politically active without being polarizing. I believe one can be an entertainer without being an extrovert, and that one can entertain abstract thought and anomalous aspects of our world without catering to wasted thought.
As much as I espouse skepticism and a Pyrrhonist philosophy myself, I shudder at how close-minded many so-called “great thinkers” of today actually are, as they appear to conform not to logic or rationale, but more to the confirmation of their own biases.
Before we resolve this exercise in personal reflection, for a moment we shall move on to discussion of our relationships with others. There are people in this world, and we all know them, who will demand things of us: our time, our opinions, and even our hearts and souls. Examples range from the obvious, to the essential, to the absurd and the wholly banal. Our day to day lives are riddled with such tomfoolery; and yes, most of it is meaningless, like the majority of opinions. And yet, silly little spats and arguments, which have very little bearing on reality or the toils and stresses our world is undergoing, seem to draw the reigns over the lives of so many of us. Many people relish in availing themselves to drama and negativity, and blissfully remove themselves from serious happenings in the world.
- On April 25th, an 8.1M earthquake struck Nepal near Gorkha, killing more than 7000 people, with those sustaining injuries roughly double that number.
- As many as 250 people have been arrested, following the deployment of thousands of police and Army National Guard troops in Baltimore, Maryland, where a state of emergency was declared following protests in response to the suspicious death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, an African American man in police custody. At least twenty police officers have been injured during the displays of civil unrest that have ensued.
- A federal appeals court has ruled that U.S. spying programs that have collected untold amounts of personal data from millions of American citizens was an illegal operation, raising questions about the effectiveness and scope of the operation.
- A controversial new NASA “EM drive” propulsion device, for which the underlying mechanism remains somewhat mysterious, has sparked interest worldwide after NASA Eagleworks announced they had, “nullified the prevailing hypothesis that thrust measurements were due to thermal convection.” This was achieved by testing the device within a vacuum chamber, removing the possibility that air disturbance around the device had interfered with previous measurements. The investigation remains in its infancy, but if proven to be a functional design, the EM drive could end up pointing us toward new kinds of interstellar travel.
- In spite of increasing economic turmoil, Russian leader Vladimir Putin continues to attempt to bolster and modernize the Russian military, as relations between the fallen superpower and its burgeoning neighbors in China continue to soften.
There is much to consider about our world, and our place in it.
This calls to mind Shakespeare, who famously wrote, in that oft-spoken quote from Polonius, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman offered sentiments along these lines that I like even more, when he said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
On the subject of fooling, it is easy to allow the impositions of the everyday to corral us into feeling as either fools within, or as fool without; in other words, we naturally second guess ourselves when we dare to walk to the beat of a different drum (the fool within), and even manage to convince ourselves that, without the typical standards and beliefs of those around us, we may fall even further from completeness (the fool without). Which fool are you?
The truth, of course, is that neither of these is requisite, and further, that there is no requirement for one alone, and not the other, if either are to qualify in the first place. Individuation here is the key, and with it, the comfort that comes with knowing oneself truly… despite the subjective projections painted onto us by others.
Or, in keeping with the philosophical musings cited earlier, perhaps we could say it this way: True to thyself, but never a fool, nor one who allows themselves to be fooled… and above all, with little regard for how foolish our individual truths may seem to others, who view things at a safe distance through the lens of subjectivity.