Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
The question for today had something about being alive. When was the last time you felt alive, what did you feel, what did you smell, etc… Again, it’s maybe an interesting question, being able to go back and search and feel those and call upon that experience when you’re writing or working. I don’t really see what that has to do with the Emerson quote. I feel alive as I’m writing these posts. But enough about that. Let’s talk a little about the integrity of your own mind. You need to watch your inputs.
Everyone talks about the computer analogy here. Garbage in, garbage out. It’s apt, and probably has more truth in it than we realize. I personally prefer the words of Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I.
Your focus determines your reality.
In order to address the problems and concerns that face us and our families, in order to come up with the right solutions, we need to see things clearly. We need to be focused on the right things. Focused on the truth. Clinging to that rod. It all comes back to that analogy.
Like I said the other day, you do need to be careful of clinging too much to the analogy, and not enough to the principle the analogy represents. That was my problem. I was so fixated on the idea of there being one path for me to follow that I lost sight of the freedom that in reality lay all around me. I can choose my own course. I can make a mistake. And never once let go of the rod.
Don’t fall into the trap of being so in love with an analogy that you lose sight of the principle the analogy is attempting to communicate. Don’t mistake the image for the substance. Don’t mistake sizzle for steak. Don’t mistake glitter for gold. Which means… watch your inputs. Because you have to be able to think and see clearly. You have to be able to discern.
I was talking with my wife tonight about Babylon 5 (Ooooooh, aren’t you sorry you don’t live in MY house?). I have heard J. Michael Straczynski say that B5 is about two questions. They get asked over and over.
Who are you?
What do you want?
Who are you? Do you know? Have you decided? Is your decision based on a realistic appraisal of your talents, strengths, weaknesses, foibles, natural predilections? If someone asked you right now to describe yourself, how would you answer? Think about it. What does it mean? I usually start by saying “I am an Idaho farm boy.” What does that mean? It says something about the place I grew up, which helped shape me. It says something about the things I saw my family do, which helped shape me. You look at my twitter profile, and the first thing it says is “I get into and out of trouble daily.” I have a curious nature, and it’s gotten me into trouble more than once. Things usually work out, though. And don’t get me started on C.S. Lewis and how HE keeps getting me into trouble (which is the first thing you see in the “About Me” section of my Facebook profile). Who Are You? That’s part of the truth you need to cling to. Look hard. And have an answer.
What do you want? What do you really want? Be honest with yourself. Accept the admirable and the base things that you want. Accept that you want them. (I want a Nintendo 3DS, and as of this writing I am a 38 year old man). Then choose what you will actually pursue. What is your priority? What is important to you? And what are you willing to do / sacrifice / go without in order to obtain that thing? How hard are you willing to work? Are you willing to be honest about your actions and intentions? Or is the image you project the thing that you hold most dear? Is it mere popularity you want? Or an avoidance of pain? Everyone wants those things to some extent. That’s all right. It’s okay. Accept that you want it. What else is in there? Be serious. Ask the question. What Do You REALLY Want? Not right now. Not tomorrow. Not in the moment. Not what everyone else wants. Not what everyone else wants for you. Not what it SEEMS like everyone else wants. What do YOU want? Figure it out. And then pursue it. And know it’s something you’re pursuing because You Want It. Period. You don’t have to justify this to me or to anyone else. You do have to honestly assess what you want. And once that’s done, press forward.
People get confused about image and substance. About illusion and truth. I thought I wanted to follow that one true path through life which Solla-Sollew-like, would give me no troubles, at least very few. And I realize now that this is an unrealistic expectation. It’s not based on truth. It’s not based on reality. What I want is the fruit. I want what’s at the end of the process. And knowing what’s at the end of the process allows me to enjoy the journey. They say that the journey is the important part. That’s true. But people typically don’t go on a journey without having a destination. The journey for its own sake is aimless, purposeless. Fruitless.
Know who you are. Who am I? What are my principles? Where will I go and where will I not? How will I treat others? How do I expect to be treated in return?
Know what you want. Where am I going? Why? What’s at the end of this path? Am I willing to accept the challenges, misteps and mistakes to get to the end?
Once you’re there – once you’ve got that clear focus, then the question becomes… can I hold that vision in my mind? Can I press forward no matter the obstacle? Can I hold to the rod – to a clear assessment of truth, weighed, measured, analyzed, and accepted… and get to the tree?
Who are you? And what do you want?