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Fear and honesty - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
September 16th, 2004
10:18 am
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Fear and honesty
Probably over a year ago at this point, I asked Charlie what about me could stand improving. (He would occasionally ask this question of me, and it seemed worth knowing.) Charlie told me that honesty was the main thing I had to work on. I asked him again some time later (though still before I moved to Pittsburgh) and he repeated the same thing—that everything other than honesty was basically fine, and that was the one thing I needed to watch out for.

Then in the honesty meme recently, Laura told me that fear is what I have to look out for.

Without considering whether either of these (or some third thing—“evasion” was a candidate in my mind for a while) is my “fundamental problem”, considering both of them at the same time is possibly illuminating. Specifically, I frequently view these two things as being opposed to one another, and believe that I have to choose between them. It seems pretty consistent for the past year or so that the times when I'm happy are the times when I'm fearlessly fabricating some sort of story (thus being dishonest) and getting others to buy into it. Meanwhile, the times when I am honest, I'm also intensely fearful because I believe that others would and will reject me if I reveal my “true self” to them. (To answer two obvious objections: yes, I'm aware that rejection is not the end of the world, but I think I have a pretty realistic assessment of how much it does hurt, and that's a lot; and yes, I have good reason to believe that the rejection I fear is a very realistic and likely possibility—it isn't just some abstract fear without any real grounding.)

It seems like the most obvious lesson to take from all of this is that happiness is fleeting and I should and must grab it when and if I see it, because I won't get another chance on any particular opportunity, and because any situation that feels good is also fundamentally unsustainable. I am resistant to accepting this at a core level, but my behavior often seems to conform to it pretty closely anyway.

My current depressed state is due to two factors: I have been smacked in the face recently with a lot of reality, in the form of “things go wrong, and no one really cares”; and I seem to have run out of games to play or stories to tell that would justify it, give it some meaning so that it seems like my suffering has a point.

(Hey, if I keep up this level of whininess long enough, do I eventually become goth?)

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:September 17th, 2004 12:07 am (UTC)

not unless you give up the tie-dye.

Which I do not suggest.


Fear prevents us. Prevents honesty. Prevents pleasure. Prevents pain.
Fear prevents life. So, well, keep it in check.
Fear keeps us from that which is new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable.
It decides for us what we like and dislike, before we have a chance to feel it.
Fear is statistical processing, a great super-computer of what we should take a chance on.
And for most of us, our algorithm is so fucked-
We think we're beating the odds, but the house is still winning.

Life is no tight thing, no last grubby twenty clutched in a sweaty hand which must last,
must last until Friday, dear God. No, life is not caught in the throat at a shadow or a sound.
Life is not a child staring into the dark at where the door to the closet is ajar.

We'll have our moments, sure. Everyone gets scared. It's okay. It'll be okay.

But it doesn't rule us. We are grown up, and that means that we are children who have conquered the fear of some faceless higher power that resides in suits and cool kids. We are what we would be if we went back to high school now. We'd laugh, we'd be fearless in the face of bullies, tormentors, and teachers! We know now what we should have known then. It's all just so much bullshit. What can scare us that we can't face? We survived! We looked death in the face, we looked into the void dissolution and corruption. We know that we survived, whole and sound. Fear means nothing. We have faith. We are capable, now, in the future, and in hindsight.

I get scared, too. Agoraphobic, afraid of the marketplace of human society. I build additions onto my house of deception, and peer out of windows while I flaunt my buttresses. I know it's no good. I am not this house I have built, that other people have given names to- slut, airhead, pervert, sinner. I dismantle what I can. It's a process, continual. I have faith that it is uphill- hard, but in the right direction.

I just try to walk a little further out my front door every day.

(This is half written for you, half written for me. Sometimes it helps to write what you want to believe.)
[User Picture]
Date:September 18th, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC)

Re: not unless you give up the tie-dye.

Laura, you know what I'm really afraid of?

It's not losing anyone or anything I value. It's not injury. It's not sickness. It's not (usually) humiliation. It's not death.

What I'm afraid of is irrelevancy—this grey sheet pulled permanently over my eyes and ears, the feeling that no one and nothing cares or matters. I'm afraid that the moments of intensity, of caring, that I have experienced, are merely exceptions to the fundamental uselessness that is and must be the vast majority of life.

I could really use a quest right now. Even if it was stupid and pointless, as long as I didn't know that right away.
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