Writing our own stories

I had a discussion about introspection today with one of my coworkers. I think its fair to say that most of us know we don’t always admit the truth about ourselves, to ourselves. We run into trouble when we start detaching ourselves from our own truth entirely.

So that begs the questions, who writes our own stories?

When I wake up in the morning, there’s a very simple task ahead of me, I need to pee. That’s the first thing I do every morning, I wake up, and I go to the bathroom. and it is just that simple, there’s no other step, and somewhere after that, I become a full fledged thinking person, before I pee though, I’m a toilet hunting missile.

So I think its safe to say, at some point I decide, to start deciding things. probably shortly after washing my hands.

So I decide to start deciding things, but what if I never look back at these things, or hold my own life uncritically. Who writes my story then.

I’ve talked on the nature or truth before, and how I hold it more tightly then I do the other lofty human rights, like freedom. Yet, truth is one of the easiest things to give up, and one of the hardest things to fight for.

So who writes my story if I don’t pay attention. Obviously as humans we’re very adept at creating our own narrative, even if we don’t understand the protagonist, because lets be honest, we’re the protagonist of our own story, and we generally don’t understand ourselves that well.

So, if we don’t understand ourselves, yet still lead lives of varying levels of fulfillment. Who writes the story, is it that as people we follow those who do make decisions, and as such those who don’t choose their own path are the amalgamation of a web of leaders and trailblazers their lives are touched by.

Or is there some sort of generic social template that you can put yourself onto autopilot with?

That’s not to say that there are people that never make decisions, but to truly understand yourself you need to know; what you decided to do, and why you decided to do it. For almost every decision you make. That is exhausting. Many of our decisions we redo day in and day out. I make toast for breakfast most mornings because I know I usually make toast for myself most mornings. So I don’t need to think too hard about that, toast is tasty and easy. That spins off into other decisions, when I buy groceries I need to buy bread, because I will choose to eat toast for breakfast etc.

Or maybe we truly are creatures of habit. There’s not much about Mormonism I find interesting but there is one facet. They believe that If you’re not ready for ‘heaven’ or whatever they call it. That you have a chance after death to prove your worth again. However, even knowing what you do, you’re held back by the routines and decisions you made in life. Basically, once you die its hard to break the mold of your habits. Whether its true is irrelevant, but I wonder, does this type of thing happen during our life.

Do we build ourselves into an idea of a person and run ourselves accordingly. Letting ever more major decisions wash over us as we build up a repertoire of premade decisions?

In that case, we do write our own stories, but we’re really boring and bad authors.

I don’t have an answer, but I always wonder.

Who writes our stories?

 

Telling your story is exhausting

I’m incredibly tired today. Yesterday my wife and I had part of our assessment to be foster parents. This section involved almost two hours of reviewing my life story. Every time you have to tell your life story it takes a piece out of you I think.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to do it, but it does feel differently this time, first off, it wasn’t my first rodeo, I’ve got some experience spilling my guts with this stuff. The other thing that makes it feel different is that its for other people. Hopefully any kids we’re able to help will make it all worthwhile.

The hardest part is putting everything back where it belongs. Going through this sort of exercise is not very orderly. Much like a toddler trying to find that one particular toy to play with, grabbing memories and stories from the archive is a messy business, after the fact you’re exhausted and your mind is a bit of a mess. I’m going to take an easy day today, maybe even try and go meditate.

I’m sure I’ll have some more to talk about later, once I’m back in one piece.

On blogging

I’ve been at this for a few months now and I wanted to talk about one of the more interesting facets of this.

I’ve never been one to write in a journal or writing in a diary, I have a pretty good memory. I don’t even usually bother taking pictures when I’m on vacation. I can remember well enough the experience.

So this whole blogging thing, and I mean honest to goodness blogging (I used to have a tumblr I pretentiously posted on) is kind of new.

I have a hard time expressing myself at times, I tend to hold things in a keep them tight to the chest. This has been refreshing in that I just throw things out into the air and if people can identify or find use with it then that’s great, if not that’s also great.

Which makes it all the more interesting to go back and read what I’ve already written. It’s interesting to see the framing of each post. Sometimes they’re angrier then I feel at the time and seem overwhelming. Down the road I’m sure this post will seem like pretentious drivel.

I guess what matters is that sometimes the hardest person to communicate with is the person looking back at you in the mirror and blogging has helped me start that conversation.

Living truth

I’ve talked before about how I’ve been reading old stoic philosophy. Most of it is Roman, and one of the things I find the most interesting is their fascination with truth.

We don’t talk about truth a lot anymore. We don’t strive towards truth, the closest we seem to get to is some degree of authenticity. Truth is a far higher standard. Being truthful to yourself is incredibly difficult. It means admitting everyone of your mistakes, while also not reveling in your victories. It means not just living a balanced life, but thinking in a balanced way. It means feeling in a balanced way. Truth is unyielding, so you must be always ready to accept it.

I’m going to share a rather long quote from Epictetus about the nature of mind and body. Please keep in mind that Roman’s had a very patriarchal view of the world, I’ve chosen not to change the text.

What then should a man have in readiness in such circumstances? What else than “What is mine, and what is not mine; and permitted to me, And what is not permitted to me.” I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment? “Tell me the secret which you possess.” I will not, for this is in my power. “But I will put you in chains.” Man, what are you talking about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower. “I will throw you into prison.” My poor body, you mean. “I will cut your head off.” When, then, have I told you that my head alone cannot be cut off? These are the things which philosophers should meditate on, which they should write daily, in which they should exercise themselves.

You can kill me, hurt me, imprison me, cripple me, but you can never control my thoughts. Freedom of thought is always in your control, and always something worth using.

What then does that quote have to do with truth? Everything, living your life truthfully and honestly requires you to accept that the only integrity worth maintaining is your mind and will. As Epictetus states not even Zeus can overpower his will. The only thing you have is your thinking mind. Your body is largely irrelevant to the whims of the universe. You can’t control what others do to your body, only how you interpret it. If you strive for truth at all times there’s nothing but virtue that can flow from that perspective.

Now, what’s that got to do with me? I’m trans, always have been and always will be. The hunt for my own truth in my own mind has been exhaustive and exhausting. I find great comfort in knowing that knowing myself and living truthfully is virtuous. I am not held back by my physical body because it is not always in my control. Others can restrain me, or taunt me or exclude me. If I maintain truthful to myself then I am always acting in accordance with nature.

P.S. A lot of douchenozzles use stoicism to justify their shitty behavior. Being a stoic isn’t about only caring about yourself, and not feeling emotions. It’s about trying to be the best person you can be, and caring for others without caring for reciprocation. THere’s is an element of selfishness but the selfishness is to recognize that your best interests are served as part of a community.

Fly on the wall

I’ve always longed to be

a fly on the wall

To hear and see

but do nothing at all

 

I yearn for the truths

we don’t tell other people

like old timey sleuths

hiding in personal steeples

 

My own story is hard

not easy to share

each person does guard

the truths we can’t bare

 

I yearn for the freedom

to hear from some other

the tales that precede’em

my own, did not smother.

Pushing past being a pushover

I’m a pretty confident person, not always by choice, part of it is my profession and part of it is who I am, mixed in with a healthy dose of unending opinions from people about being Trans. So I know I’m fully capable of expressing myself and letting my opinion be heard. Yet, I don’t always choose to do so and I’m starting to wonder why.

I’ll give an example of a situation I find myself in, my office is small there’s only two of us here full time. So to keep the office open we both go to lunch at different times. Since graduating and starting my career I’ve always taken lunch at noon, for one simple reason. I love it. I worked in restaurants from high school until graduating from college. I never got to eat lunch at noon when I was working, because everyone else was.

Getting to eat lunch at noon was a meaningful thing to me, I had moved on I ate when I wanted to, I got to enjoy lunchtime as it happened, not serving other people. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

So when the woman I work with started last year, she came in and claimed my noon time lunch. Which at the time I didn’t think mattered that much, but it bothered me. I’d been here longer, she was changing my schedule, but I wanted to be nice and accommodate her, starting a new job isn’t always fun so I thought I’d be nice.

One problem with being a pushover is if you push back, people get offended and weird about it. So last week I’d decided after nearly a year that I would really like to have my noon lunch time. I missed it, I enjoyed it. It was meaningful to me. I wanted it back, I was even willing to compromise, she could have it more then me, she takes three days a week, I’ll take two. That doesn’t work for her, she wants to alternate weeks, that’s fine I’m flexible.

Today’s the first day I’m supposed to take a noon lunch, I’d even kind of forgot about it because she’d reacted so poorly I didn’t think it was on the table. She brought it up today, and insisted, but first needed to tell me that she didn’t like this at all. Then diminished my feelings by saying I don’t even care.

I hate when people tell me how I feel, and part of its my own fault. I keep my emotions so close to the chest that 90% of the time they’re wrong. But don’t diminish things because I don’t seem to care about them. I don’t express myself well at the best of time and something as simple as a lunchtime is not going to move me to great passion.

But it does matter to me.