Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Shifting Truth


Barbara: It was always hard for me to stake a claim on an opinion. I worried first that my opinion was wrong, followed quickly by my worry that I would offend someone, followed slowly by the worry that I would change my mind. This lineup of worries would march in like a firing squad when my opinion was asked, then they (my worries) would ready, aim, wait. I’d give my silent acknowledgment—message received—and no opinion would be proffered.

And while I believe that empathetic openness has its very important place in life, I have come to see—especially over these years here at the blog—that there’s a kind of rush when you stand tall and say: I believe this. (My first disclaimer to this opinion: the internet has also proven a vile and hateful sounding board for opinions, which are spewed without a care for others’ feelings and often without any real consideration. That’s my opinion.)

Okay, let’s try again—I will stand tall and say: I believe this about myself. If you don’t trust me that I’ve learned to do this, well, there are 569 posts here that would beg to differ. Maybe you don’t believe that I ever found it difficult to express opinions. And maybe you’d also be right—of course, I thought this or that, made this point or that one, but I would only really present (or debate or fight for) these positions with those absolutely closest to me. I trusted them with my (possibly conflicting, possibly difficult-to-hear, possibly stupid) opinions.

Over the years of blogging, I’ve learned to let go of the first and most bloodthirsty worry about truth-telling: that I might be wrong. It’s funny, being wrong in someone else’s opinion turned out to be not such a big deal. I thought it would slaaaaaay me. But no. Turned out to be shrug-inducing. Welcome to the world, we don’t all agree. And your differing opinion doesn’t impinge on mine, and, well, often teaches me a lot about the different ways of the world. So putting my opinion out there actually turns a “confessional” moment into a learning moment.

But here’s the most difficult issue with saying “I believe this about myself”: tomorrow, I might not. And there’s the rub. If I say something today and put it into print, or even into someone’s ear, then that’s how you view me. And what if tomorrow I learn something new that shifts that tender truth into something else?

I read this article the other day about how our personal truths are always changing as we age and mature. They featured a woman who in her 20s was adventurous and outgoing, who was a daredevil and a party-girl, up for anything, a taker-of-chances. But now in her 30s, she’s settled down and is quiet and hardworking, prefers small groups and intimate experiences. She hadn’t changed to fit into a mold, she had changed because, well, she had changed. But she certainly felt herself now as much as she had felt herself back then.

So here’s the thing, regardless of the permanence of internet writings, regardless of the elephant-like memories of the people I share with, I say that the truth I tell you today, may not be the truth I believe tomorrow. But by speaking my truth on any given day, I am racking into focus more and more, ultimately for myself, and possibly even for you.

Deb: Oh my goodness, I love this because I have lived this ... constantly. I have a dear darling friend who says to me often, “But you said you would...” pertaining to any number of things. And she is 100% right. I have and I did. Change my mind, I mean. My only defense. My only lovely defense is that I have changed, my truth has changed, my life has changed. I am proud to say that over the years I have yielded to the wind and gone with the flow. Or should it be that I have gone with the wind? At any rate, my basic principals are in tact regards equal rights for every living creature and peace baby peace. The rest ... is up for grabs. Catch you on the flip side.


28 comments:

  1. I find this to be true! Ha.

    I was JUST thinking about this yesterday as I was reminiscing about being 20 again, like our oldest daughter. MUCH has changed in my opinions and choices. Personally, I find those who don't ever change their opinions and consider them some sort of gold standard, the people I want to listen to the least.

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    1. Interesting. We're so often encouraged to believe that we need to find our "true selves" - and the self is ever-evolving, isn't it?

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  2. I read (and I'm sorry, I can't remember the book's title) that all people change their minds and opinions more often than they realize. Research shows that people truly think that they have always believed what they believe today, but it's a delusion. We are all changing our minds all the time. Putting your thoughts in writing strips away that delusion and forces us to be honest with ourselves, doesn't it? For me, it's one of the scarier things about blogging.

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    1. So true, fg. Especially when you can now track the evolution because it's all right there. Like a breadcrumb trail!

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  3. I love this post. As I grow, I change and what I believed years ago is still basically there but has been enhanced by experience. If one didn't ever change think how boring life would be. By writing all the time you get a deep personal history of your thoughts and you can see how things have changed and how things stayed exactly the same.

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    1. I love how you've expressed this, Madge.

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  4. Ohhh I love this Barb! I love our connection I was JUST having this situation on FB with a friend. I used to have that trouble and worrying with opinions. Not because I thought mine was wrong but because I didnt wanna start arguing. Like you know there are some people on the internet who love trolling around. And we've had cases on the blog too. Deb would remember.
    I dont think its about if the opinion is true now or tangible or correct or not. Because for once I think there is no such thing as wrong. Its all perspective. And two Yes everthing changes including ourselves, take me for instance, this time 2 years ago I had tied myself to my country so tight I never thought I could leave, and look at me now. And third thing is, our opinion is always what we believe in I think what we fear in the most general term is judgement. Because when out opinion is judged we start feeling we need to change our thinking. Sometimes. And sometimes we are SOOO sure about our stuff that we dont give a damn what anyone thinks.
    Like for example, you know how strongly I believe in LOA but I meet people who disagree or dont believe in it. And I am okay with that because I know thats their opinion. And I also know that used to be my opinion very long time ago. Its sooooo amazing to know that things always change and they always get better. But WELL thats my opinion and its TRUE FOR ME! ;)

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    1. The beauty of putting out there what's true (right now) about yourself is that no one can argue it :)

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  5. It just makes sense to me that we are going to change after all pysiologically we are always changing in a million different ways whether we want to or not. We're naturally going to adapt to those changes, often in ways we aren't always going to "get" or forsee or even have any discernable link.
    What I'm talking about are all the little things like changes in the hormones and chemicals our bodies produce, a slow down of synaptic responses, our bodies ability to deal with adrenaline or endorphine surges, our physical ability to taste, hear, smell, to even move and countless other small and seemingly insignificant things which change over time and push us to constantly adapt. We simply must evolve and allow our opinions, thoughts and ideas to flex as we gather knowledge throughout life as well and deal with our natural physical changes. I do also think however that amidst all these changes we each have a core "essence" if you will that doesn't change.

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    1. Oh, beautifully put, Erin! Got goosebumps.

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  6. You are not alone in this, Barb. This might not be a surprise, but I have a lot to say. But most of the time I just choose not to simply because I am afraid of offending people or getting into arguments. I've rolled my eyes one too many times at arguments over Facebook and it's something I'd just rather not get into. And I HATE that people are so afraid of their opinions getting judged, myself included. We should always be entitled to our opinions, but within reason...sometimes I think there are people who are just misunderstood and have an intelligent opinion, versus those who give their opinions just for the sake of giving their opinions.

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    1. Exactly what I had to rebel against (that I didn't express because I was afraid of judgement) -- which makes the stance on "what is me" so satisfying. You might not like it, and you can maybe examine it with me, but you can't tell me I'm "wrong".

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  7. I have strong opinions and if asked I will share them without hesitation. I remember telling people my ideas and adding that as a woman I am allowed to change my mind without a notice ;) that is and will be my final reasoning if I am ever asked why did I change my mind suddenly. Sometimes I change my mind while talking.

    Some big things, like 'I believe this about myself' have been quite the same for a long long time. I have made a conscious decision to change it, so I know it is different from what it used to be.

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    1. So you have changed -- or you have owned what is you for a long time?

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    2. Nope, it is definitely a change. Somethings are similar to old me, obviously, but I feel different inside compared to a year ago. At first I was interested in everything (as a child), then came the dark phase and now is something new. Don't yet fully know the theme but I would say it is peace.

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  8. Oh, would that my mind could let fall its dead ideas, as the tree does its withered leaves! ~Andre Gide

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    1. this post and Jim's response make me, as so often, so grateful for my writerly friends. xo

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  9. I enjoy seeing how my personality changes as I learn to love things I used to be unaware of or indifferent to. If you described the current me to my 15-year-old self, I wouldn't believe you.

    And about expressing opinions, I am happy to share positive ones but hesitate to say negative ones even if specifically asked for feedback. People are funny, aren't they?

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    1. Well, I actually am pretty much in agreement with that. I think I'm more about "this is how I feel" as opposed to "this is what I don't like". Although, that said there are plenty of things I don't like. Like guns.

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  10. I'm always worried when it comes to giving my opinion, I'm always afraid I'm going to hurt somebody feelings or give the wrong opinion. Thats why when I say some that I do have to give my opinion I always say something,like this is juat what,i think .

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    1. I've noticed that, Lyndsie, and I think it sounds quite lovely.

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  11. I have been SUPER busy with classes and extra tired but I have to tell you how much I agree with this. I spend so much time with my finger hovering over the enter/send/post/publish button and then everything ends up just fine. I need to relax and trust my friends will understand it all. :)

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    1. Yes, Kelly! (good luck with classes...)

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  12. Ok…. THIS TURNES ME ON… YES, YES, and YES! This is one of my all time favorite topics! And you expressed it so well!

    Something I say daily, “We are humbly reminded daily that we know nothing!”

    When LoVie & I moved in together (13 years ago)
    It was one of the first conversations we talked about. If you asked him about it he too would tell you our conversation….
    "I’m not my reaction"
    "I’m not my thoughts"
    “I’m forever changing”
    “Please don’t "label me"
    I’m “NEW” just like the day!
    AND my all time Favorite… “Who told you to believe your thoughts?”

    I'm somebody who doubts that a question has one correct answer or that something can be completely understood. I can thank my parents for this. When I was very young, if I didn't like something (lets say food) my dad would always correct me, and say, “you don't like it “TODAY”. So the next time it presents itself to you, make sure you try it again”. And, he was CORRECT! I LoVe brussel sprouts now ;) Small example, but you get my point.

    Here are a few of my favorite quotes that i think you will enjoy….

    "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." ~ Marcus Aurelius

    "There is nothing wrong with concepts as long as they are seen for what they are: the menu; but never the meal. It's when we mistake concepts for reality that we open the door to suffering." –Michael Jeffreys

    "The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new." -Pema Chodrun

    "Thoughts are not the problem… it’s the thing that goes out and grabs them and makes them ‘yours’ that’s the problem." –Jac O’keeffe

    "It is very easy to be tricked by the circumstances of the present moment. But, dear seeker, remember that everything changes! Life is an exercise not in adding, but in constantly letting go of what you know and who you think you are and to have the courage to become brand new. When we fixate on the past, we welcome it into our present moment, which keeps the past alive. When you give up the fight, THAT is when you'll take flight!"
    - Jackson Kiddard, author & polymath.


    LoVe to you both xxoxoxo
    Sean'a

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    1. wow, thank you thank you thank you, Sean'a. This list of quotes should be on everyone's fridge -- including YOUR quotes and your dad's (what a guy he sounds like!). Am keeping this tucked away for a rainy day. LOVE xoxo

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    2. These were so, so great! Your dad is incredibly wise. LOVE this.

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