Capital-T Truth

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?


6 thoughts on “Capital-T Truth”

  1. asking me what I would do if it didn’t matter one bit what I did is so utterly refreshing to me – I find that shifting my choices and emotional lense to that perspective is so much more empowering than I would have guessed. We’re supposed to believe in ourselves and have gobs of the kind of self esteem that compells us to *know* we can do anything and it matters *so* much…I have pockets of that earnestness tucked here and there…

    but, when those tufts of earnest start to grow like broom all over my landscapes i feel more clogged than lifted and inspired. it just starts to feel like a too high horse of ‘i’m so special and powerful and important’ but can’t manage to do anything useful with that because i’m so caught up in all the specialness. most pointless catch 22 ever.

    I’m not as action oriented as you in general, but being able to embody the sorts of things i find worth contemplating is important to me – things existing only in the potential form as ideas is tiresome to me – i want to know what they *feel* like on the ground and in my bones – if i’m too busy worrying about what matters and how my influence will affect others because it’s all so *important* then i don’t get to that part where an idea becomes something that’s happening that has attributes that i can experience and describe….

    I digress, for me – this topic is interlayed with my contemplations on how unfair things can be and what my responsibility to balance that is and how to be valuable and just how powerful/affective/influential my skills really are – where the line between what i do and how it affects you and who is responsible for what is really drawn – I have very little….resolution within that tangle of things – and i’m alright with there being no answer as simple as ‘nothing i do matters’ – but when I look over the shoulder of ‘nothing i do matters’ there’s a lot less guilt about it all to work out. There’s no ‘big truth’ to find and cleave to and sacrifice myself on that altar of.

    I much prefer living in thinner moments of truth than the rigid bigger ones.

  2. …and by prefer, I mean, that it isn’t always my natural tendency – I can get real preachy and dogmatic – which is a way of self soothing that works like a charm on me….

    I just know i’m more…alive, free, powerful, vibrant – more right here when I’m living with the ephemeral type of truth – that place is where my imagination and heart are rich – and things shimmer with poetry and music. mmm – it’s much more delicious.

    1. I’m feeling you. I don’t know how many people are like you and I, with that deep certainty of potential contribution, but holy fuck is it a monkey on your back sometimes!

      This overbearing sense of responsibilty tends to skew our responses until we only think in terms of “the needs or the many”. That’s not neccesarily a bad thing, but it tends to take us out of touch with our own desires, needs and values, which is a strong place of power for us.

      So I’m happy that was so useful for you. Hugs!

  3. @Shanna Mann ~ I soooo was all “WTF is she talking about??” when you first posted this – 2+ years ago!
    Since then, I’ve been learning tons more about “how to live My Life without slipping into Overwhelm so easily or often” ~ and the “change your questions – shift your perspective” concept makes way more sense. Still hard to get my head around *this particular* question, though…

  4. Well … 
    Another year down the pike, and a particular circumstance, where “Nothing I do *really* matters” makes easier sense, and I see the release in it! 
    I’m starting a real-life Sales gig tomorrow, and I feel completely under-prepared – but I hope that doesn’t bounce me out of the box – I’m looking forward to the challenge! – I really need it to last at the very least a couple of months, to pay for a place to live!

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