This was inspired by Reba’s post at Navigating by Heart, and largely lifted from my long-assed comment there.
I know there is no Truth, but I get really frustrated when people imagine me a nihilist for saying such things.
I think the problem is that people depend on a dogma or an idee fixee as a sort of North Star by which to mark their inner compass. They tend to believe that without Truth, we would all be rudderless, and, often, they tend to believe that we would do terrible things, or at least, never live up to their potential or achieve any kind of legacy.
You can correct me if I’m sounding condescending here, but I think these fixed points, this insistence that “THIS is true” and THIS is true, and here are my landmarks by which to steer my life, come from a deep uncertainty of how to handle change. Or that change and chaos even CAN be handled, and not merely waited out.
So for me, my small truth is that things are only “true” moment by moment, and that each new moment brings the possibility that what was once true is not true any longer. Accepting the ephemeral nature of “truth” means that I am less able to delude myself by steering by these landmarks, rather than always assessing the lay of the land and my interaction with it. Rather like the NLP saying “The map is not the territory”
I’ve been told by some people that it’s just too hard to have to keep re-assessing the situations and circumstances of life and that they just want to relax and not feel like the sky will fall because they’re not paying attention. I must admit that I don’t know quite what to do with that reaction, because to me, keeping a weather eye on the horizon is psychologically much easier than wearing a blindfold and telling yourself that “Probably nothing much has changed.” That might be true, but wouldn’t it be easier to know for certain?
Oh, and to get back to the nihilist thing. I find the idea that nothing is fixed to be kind of freeing, in a footloose kind of way. Because you cannot reasonably expect anything to stay the same for long enough to measure any kind of progress by, it follows that the only kind of progress you can even mark is your own, against yourself. I just kind of envision where I’d like to be, or what I’d like to do, and I head in that direction, following the lay of the land. It’s at once tremendously difficult and stunningly simple, but as far as I’m concerned, nothing has very much meaning, and that’s how I’ve decided to spend my time, like a weightlifter trying to beat her own record. The only true mastery is over self, and all that.
Now, it might be that you don’t feel the need to work at self-mastery, and that instead you have other ways to occupy your time in this world. Maybe you live in service, maybe you travel and become an ambassador to humanity and a citizen of the world.
I invite you to think about it: If you knew that nothing you did would matter, if you knew that your presence on this earth would leave no lasting mark, that no memory of you would grace the cosmos… even knowing the futility of it all, how would you spend your time?