Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Interviewing myself

On the last post, Bee wrote: what's important to you in life? Wisdom? Serenity? Integrity? Popularity?

Yes three times, and no. Sort of like telling the LOGO turtle to draw part of a box, and then stop.


I want to be surrounded by people who really have perspective on what matters and what doesn't. I don't really presume to ever acquire or wield wisdom myself, but I hope to be in its presence as much as possible. Or others with a similar goal of aiming ourselves in the direction of finding more of it.

One thing I've learned though, wisdom is not something you gain just by thinking about it. I didn't know that when I was a kid. I thought if I read enough books, it would make me both smarter and wiser.

It did make me more of a wise-ass, but so far I haven't fully capitalized on that...

Now I think it's sort of a fancy word for learning through experience, but doesn't necessarily equate with age or visible hardship.


Ever since the Joss Whedon Firefly series, I associate this word with two things: a) yogis floating in midair doing the lotus pose (my old image) and b) a creaky old POS-looking spaceship pushed to her limits, who just might fall out of the air at any moment. The way I think about it now sort of superimposes these concepts.

I identify with several of the characters on Firefly: Mal, the scrappy embattled bitter renegade loser leader; Zoe, the mysterious no-bullshit fighter who just keeps keepin' on no matter how much shit she's been through; Inara, the ultimate combination of feminine grace and business sense; Kaylee, the mechanic who is passionate about her work, but also utilitarian and romantic; River, the somewhat psychic nutjob; Shepherd Book, the mysterious ninja priest.

There's two things I've learned.

1. Serenity is worth striving for, but I don't ever expect to get there.
2. It's about the journey, not the destination.

In other words, I'd rather be sailing along and steering with the wind, rather than clawing my way up and icy mountain.


Still, despite all I've seen, one of the most important things to me. Above almost all else.

Case in point: I've had mentors, on more than one occasion, who encouraged me to lie or otherwise break rules for their own or my benefit. But I just can't do it. And I don't mean I can't do it effectively (although I can't, really). I mean it actually hurts me, physically and emotionally, it just goes against the fibrous grain of my being.

Blogging pseudonym-ominously (pun intended) is about as close as I've ever gotten to keeping up a big fat lie. But I've done it so I can tell more truth than I could otherwise.

I don't know if that makes it okay. But I'll defend it as a choice I made, given where I was at the time, and I make it again every day. Is that the same as integrity? Or is that just living as a human being?


Do I care? Don't I? I don't know.

For example, I like having people read this blog. It's not popular, I don't think. But I like that enough people read it and comment on it from time to time that I don't feel like I'm writing in the void.

Would I rather be popular or have fewer, more devoted fans? Devoted fans, definitely. Kindred spirits are worth more to me than schools of fad-following fish.

Would I rather have more followers on twitter? Sure. Am I sick of people who compare stats of how many thousands of followers they have, like it means something? Hell yeah.

When I was a kid, for a while I desperately wanted to be popular. In high school, I had lots of friends, but I wasn't one of The Popular Kids. And in college I always felt like an invisible loner, but it was mostly by choice. I didn't really like the pond I found myself in. I kept to the edges.

So somewhere in there I let go of the idea. I think I equated popularity with feeling loved, naively, and it didn't take me too long to figure out they're not the same at all.

And in case it's really still not clear to you what the difference is, I recommend the movie Mean Girls, because I think it's one of the most clever depictions I've seen.

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At 2:20 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Word. I could guess your answers to the later two.

Of this list, only 'integrity' is an emotional motivator for me. Well, except for making people laugh. That's a version of popularity, I suppose. But I'd agree with you that passionately-liked-by-a-few is way better than shallowly-liked-by-many.

And I think blogging psudeononymously is intrinsically neutral- just like so much else, it's what you do with your psudeonomity that determines whether it's good or bad. Not a choice you should have to defend, as I see things.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Kea said...

Ah, yes, like me ... Integrity is your downfall. I feel weary because every single day of my life people are telling me to cheat, lie, kiss ass, sell, etc. Every day they tell me I'm a failure because I won't sell myself, or play ball. Nobody ever questions their right to impose their shallow standards on me. Well, I ain't gonna turn into one of them now. I'm past the point of no return on that one ... if I sold out now, what would have been the point of it all? So no, I refuse the stupid Perimeter job offer, because they're a bunch of jerks.

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Bee said...

Thanks, interesting. I guess we have a few things in common.

There have been cases when people gave me the smart advice to just to do this or to just go for that. And you know, I think they were right, it would have been the smart thing to do. But then I know I have to look in the mirror every morning, and end up making decisions "out of principle" while well-meaning friends think I'm stupid. So much about integrity...

I'm not sure wisdom is entirely due to learning by experience. Sure, one does learn by experience. But you can also make choices for what you learn about. And no, it's not just the accumulation of knowledge. But what do I know, not being wise myself?

I associate serenity with peace of mind, something that I'm as far away today than always. I worry too much, I guess, about all and everything.

I've never been popular either, and never wanted to. Some years back I met this guy who urged me to take a Jung Topology Test. I came out scoring 100% introvert, maybe that explains my aversion to popularity. I'm the sort of person who'd prefer to be invisible or part of the furniture rather than to be spoken to. It frankly is a mystery to me what sort of personality one needs wanting to be popular, so I've been wondering. But evidently it's not you either.



At 5:11 AM, Anonymous biodork said...

"Which Firefly character are you?" could be a fun thread. Mind if I start it? :)

I think I'd be Wash "A laid-back guy with a dry and occasionally laconic sense of humor, Wash tends to represent the pragmatic, cut-and-run opinion in any shipboard debate, and often serves as the calming influence in heated arguments". (wikipedia)

Wash is rational, a coward or hero as it serves him and his best, and a silly geek. That's totally me!

At 4:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

odd jots:
integrity: age quod agis.
serenity: distance.
wisdom: specialized pattern recognition.
popularity: sycophant-breeding.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Pretty Mad Scientist said...

I'm glad that you talked about blogging anonymously. I am new to blogging and thought about this issue alot when starting my own blog. Ironically I feel like I can be more open by not revealing too much myself.

Regarding Bee's comment, I am also an introvert. I thought something was wrong with me until I read the "The Introvert Advantage" by Laney and realized I was just a run of the mill introvert. I highly recommend it.

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there. I’m so glad you posted something on lotus pose. Leeann Carey, an amazing yoga teacher, says that you can do one legged poses to help prepare for full lotus. She has a free yoga video on this that I think your readers might like: http://planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/index.php/free-yoga-video-one-legged-lotus-pose/


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