You were born in a place on a planet. Where this happened defines your nationality, for better or worse.
This does not mean you should not travel to other parts of the world outside of the resorts and tourist destinations to meet people around the world.
You were born into a culture which shaped how you think. A religion was passed down to you; before you could speak you were surrounded by that culture and religion.
This does not mean it’s the right culture for you, or it’s the right religion for you. This is not even a factory default setting in a human. You are free to choose others, or free to choose none.
You were born into a socioeconomic situation. This will either give you opportunities that those without will call privilege, or will keep you from opportunities through your lack of privilege. There are myths and legends of hard work making you a financial success – and then there’s the story of Sisyphus.
It’s better not to be Sisyphus.
Oh, and you were born a particular shade of humanity – but that too doesn’t define you.
These are some common delusions we propagate from generation to generation.
It’s time to stop. Think. Choose.
I found a way around writer’s block for the site.
It’s Inspirobot.me, a site that generates random memes. It comes up with some brilliant ones (and a lot of really bad ones), but on the days when I can’t think of anything to write about, I’ll be using it.
Meanwhile, I’ve started writing a new book that is fun and interesting to write. It might even be fun and interesting to read, though I figure it will not be a stunning commercial success.
I mean, I’m a writer that has a blog of two flies having sex that somehow incorporates storytelling and randomness. That can be read a lot of ways when you think about it.
Hello. We’re the people selling the stuff that makes you stand in lines to get the latest one.
Our technology is good for you. Don’t think about the time you spend getting it to work, or getting it if you can. Don’t think about how many hours of work it will take for you to afford the new thing that is pretty much like the old thing with some humble improvements. Those humble improvements are going to make you more efficient and more happy.
Don’t worry about all your old stuff going to landfills. Why should you worry about the water table? We’ll make an app for that.
Use technology. It’s good for you. It will make your life so much better. It’s not that it will make you more attractive; it’s that if you don’t have it you won’t fit in. Stay up to date.
We care about you. We’ll gather your information and tell you things about yourself you might want to know – but we definitely want so that we can sell you more stuff. We’ll even map your house for you and sell it to people. You shouldn’t be ashamed of your house.
We’ll even sell your fear and outrage.
Technology is good for you.
Drink deep. We know what we’re doing – and our investors truly care about your money, which is why we make things that last just long enough to get you to a newer version.
You’re saving the world.
A strange thing, time. It’s our way of explaining things, of looking at the past and the future. It connects us and disconnects us.
The concept of time varies by culture.
We don’t think enough about something that has such control over the way we deal with our lives – and how ‘time’ varies with people we interact with in a global community.
They say that time heals, but if time heals it’s by transporting us to somewhere else – sometime else – where things are different. It’s not time that changed, it’s our environment – internal and external – that changes, and we mark it in our own versions of time.
And if we remove time altogether, we flatten our lives into a summary of all the interactions we’ve had and how we’ve interacted with it.
The living call this death.
The trouble with society and it’s war of narratives is that it’s all on a defined path. Some people are happy keeping their hands and feet inside their moving lives, content to watch as they meet waypoints on the path. They judge themselves and others by what society determines is a right path and a wrong path. What many fail to acknowledge is that these paths don’t work for everyone and that the paths were decided long ago and may not even be relevant anymore.
The human species is amazingly boring that way. It’s sort of like watching a colony of ants; everyone has their place and does what they need to do to sustain the colony. Where this falters in mankind is the concept of individuality. Where we tell children and later adults that they can do anything. That if they work really hard and follow the dictates of society, they will prosper. It’s plain to see that this is not working out very well for a majority of people around the world who, not unlike drones, go off searching for food for queens.
Are we no more than that?
It would seem so.
But then there are those who find other paths.
I don’t really like mirrors – I never have for whatever reason – yet now and then I use them to make sure I don’t look like someone who hates mirrors. Those people are relatively easy to spot, and they stand out a bit too much to be able to disappear into the background and observe effectively.
And every now and then I stare into the mirror and look at myself. I look at what is there. I think about what used to be there. As we grow older, we start with grey hair, we start with wrinkles – lines that tell us what facial expressions we wear the most. We see the scars and remember their stories.
We remember what used to be there, the younger versions of us that would become what is there now. We become the maps of our lives, a physical story of the changes made by ourselves.
And then I pull away and move on – not because I don’t like what I see, liking it or disliking it is of no value. It’s the same reason I’ve always hated mirrors.
They can only tell you what is there and you can only see what has happened between stops at the mirror.
What you cannot see is the future.
I’ve been fiddling around with Inspirobot.me because, randomly, it comes up with images like the one on the right.
When you rip away the narratives, the fictions and get to the core of it you’ll find that solitude. Some call it a meditation. That the image involved someone writing seemed somewhat appropriate as well – that’s my mode, laying pen to paper. And solitude is not a bad thing; most people confuse it with loneliness. The two are mutually exclusive.
Loneliness is a yearning to not be alone; solitude is a state of being where I can control what comes in and can pay appropriate respect to the information I have observed. I started doing it long ago as a way to get to sleep – going over the day’s events in my mind, replaying words spoken, watching facial expressions, re-experiencing moments from the safe solitude of my mind.
In a world that craves being shared, being connected to, solitude is rare – but worth every moment for critical thought, for seeing things apart from the narratives of others and the fictions of society and even ourselves.