Full disclaimer: I am thoroughly uneducated.
In fact, antieducated might be a better term, if such a term exists. I attended college for a few years after high school sporadically, and only on subjects that seemed directly interesting or useful- psychology, writing, film, photography, law, etc- but it never felt much different from High School, a place I really struggled to appreciate. In hindsight, it was an interesting experience, but for whatever reason I am only able to acquire education through my own rigid ways and no other. It has left me, I’ll say, largely ignorant of many things and quite riddled with bias and other vices of the mind and ego. But it has made me resistant- perhaps even impervious- to ideas predicated on faith, or “structures unknown.” I know every shape and detail of every block involved in every thought I have. If I cannot stretch a thought directly to the ground, I discard it- not as false necessarily, but as incompatible with my being. A natural skeptic, you might say. Sure it lead me to refuse the Covid vaccine, but it also got me out of the Christianity my parents attempted to indoctrinate me into as well. It just is what it is.
I say this because I want to express some reflective thoughts I’ve had on myself, perhaps humans in general, without the implication that I am credentialed to do so accurately.
I tend to be obsessed with binary things as they relate to humans. Binary extremes have always been the most interesting to me, but only as they look together. The darkest sky; the brightest moon. The most masculine man; the most feminine female.
I believe Jung called it “the shadow self,” but I also believe each of us is roughly two people: There’s the person that we ARE- that others, could they, would see. Our honest self. How our ACTUAL disposition could be catalogued. Self serving, self protecting, self interested. The instinct us. The natural us.
Then there is the other– the person we WISHED we were. The goal. The amalgamation of our role models, values, and desires. Not necessarily the person we see in the mirror (always) but the person, perhaps, we IMAGINE that we look like, when not faced directly with the mirror (I think this is why mirrors or photographs of ourselves can be so jarring initially). This person wants the things we want them to want. Virtue. Selflessness. Strength seeking. Reason making.
Which is the more true? The more you? Obviously, it is both, in equal measure. Yet our lives consist of each writing checks that the other refuses to cash. We want to be good, yet when disturbed we lash out in cruel anger. We want to be safe and protect ourselves, but if a man is drowning in a current we jump to our deaths after him to help. My best friend describes himself as a “leftist anarcho-socialist” but by NATURE is extremely financially conservative, institution-respecting, and by the book.
Everyone is a storm of a contradiction, and it’s a beautiful thing. Ugly too, of course. But what can one do.
Epilogue - “Last Night I Dreamed”
Last night I dreamed I was standing in the driveway of our family cabin on the beach talking to my brother under a bright sunless sky with the blue lake horizon in the background of my periphery. After a moment I noticed an odd grey cloud spread out over the horizon that wasn’t just there before- it looked frayed, like smoke. As I watched, an enormous mushroom cloud slowly lifted upwards from this jagged grey cloud, and we all stood staring at it slack-jawed from the driveway as it rose. I remember having two-point-five thoughts. The first, was ‘am I awake?’, and for some reason, some logic that fails to exist, I thought ‘yes, this is absolutely real. there is no question that this is not a dream.’ The second thought I had was ‘can I get in my car and drive away? Can I outrun it?’ to which I knew the answer was ‘No.’ We could see the blast wave making its way across the water to us. The third thought I had was only half a thought- a panicked personal reckoning of what I aught do, or think, with only moments left of my mortal faculties to do it with.
But I woke up instead.
Last updated September 12, 2022