There’s been a phrase that has emerged in the zeitgeist that goes something like this, “I’m living my truth.”
At the risk of cliché: How does Webster’s Dictionary Define the word, “True”?
“In accordance with fact or reality; being in accordance with the actual state of affairs; being that which is the case rather than what is manifest or assumed”
There is a common thread in these definitions that “truth” is not something that can be created and is unchangeable. Truth, as I’ve come to understand it, is relative. It’s a combination of data points from the world around me, my past, my physical/emotional reactions, the data points via my past, and my environments with which I was cultivated, am currently in, and would like to be.
I understand the need for the idea of my “truth.” It can help me define what it is I believe I need. Why?
In my personal experience, the acknowledgement that my thinking was archaic toward everything I knew, completely wrecked me. Answering hard questions with brutal honesty unveiled for me a lifetime’s worth of trauma, misunderstanding, and a world view that no longer aligned with where I was or wanted to go.
It caused months of confusion, anger, isolation, and distortion of my view of myself, the world around me, and everything and everyone I knew. Everything I knew was no longer sacred. All of it able to be redefined. Finding a balance of conviction and flexibility. In turn, I became more connected to myself, my desires, and the life I wanted to lead.
I didn’t want to protect the familiar bubble anymore.
Thankfully, I realized all bubbles can burst. Like farting in a bathtub, I could feel and watch the bubbles bursts. Things that no longer served me that I held onto could be released to provide me relief. Now, I would search for pools instead of bathtubs, so I had more room to work.
Because history can be such a great teacher for me, I like to think about this concept of bursting my truth bubble from a historical perspective.
Plato and Aristotle, widely regarded as two of the greatest thinkers to ever live, believed in geocentric theory. The earth was the center of their universe. They stated this in multiple writings, yet it was completely incorrect. However, this is how most of the world thought up until the 16th century when Nicolaus Copernicus developed his heliocentric model stating that the earth revolved around the sun. Plato and Aristotle took what they had learned and known, and help to continue its legacy as infallible truth for centuries. They were the center of the universe.
Copernicus challenged what he was raised to believe and fundamentally changed the way we look at the universe forever, recognizing that we were one small piece in a greater mystery that could never fully be understood.
Do I regard Plato and Aristotle as idiots?
No, they made one mistake (albeit a pretty F*in big one). Yet, they are still seen as foundational thinkers to life as we know it today in science, storytelling, government, and beyond. But if I look at them through a human lens, they probably would’ve been a little pissed that they wrote these things about Earth being the center of the universe, and then finding out they were wrong. Who knows, maybe not. They’re dead and I’m alive. The point is, I’m destined to look like a perceived idiot at moments in my life (self-prescribed or earned) because I am a human.
And because I am human, I am inherently flawed. That’s a beautiful thing.
No matter how significant I feel, I will be redefined because I too someday will be dead, and eventually fade to the annals of time. Sound a bit depressing? I actually see it as totally liberating, knowing that all I can do is my best. Humankind will only continue to build and evolve, and I am but one small step, in one fraction of a spec of an unlimited universe. That’s pretty amazing. So any mistake I make, outside of catalyzing a nuclear holocaust, will eventually be erased.
From an anthropological perspective, because my two-million-year-old brain doesn’t have to protect itself from a Saber-tooth Tiger eating me, it will still look for ways to protect myself from some unknown fear that it can’t see but knows is there. I have to help it shift perspective and realize that that big scary saber-toothed tiger is just a house cat clawing away at some furniture.
Someone get me a spray bottle.
I am constantly evolving (I haven’t gone hunting for a Wooly Mammoth in at least a month), and in turn, so is my thinking. To not do so, is to slowly die, maybe not physically, but spiritually. To assume I know the definitive truth, is to assume that I will always be right, and if that’s the case…just yikes.
Living life, taking chances, doing things that feel right (but are sometimes wrong), will reveal deep inner wisdom that I’m searching for, am earning, and that we all inherently have in us, if I’m (we’re) willing to see it. However, I must be, to a degree, unafraid to be hurt, and to love.
I don’t know what any of my actions or words will truly catalyze for myself or anyone. The possibilities are endless. It is so vital to feel my own perspective. To love and be loved in the way that I feel I want to, I must leave the rigidity of my “truth” behind.
I did not create this world, but I did create my own perception of reality. As much as sometimes I want to believe I am the center of the universe, there is so much more that I do not know than what I do. There is so much to learn, and I will never be able to learn it all. The only thing I can do is be present with the moment, and be open to shifts in my thinking. That is a love for myself and others that I want to continue to cultivate.
Now excuse me, I have to go fart in a bathtub to get ready for a Wooly Mammoth hunt before the sun finishes its revolution around the Earth, and I become one year closer to death.
That’s the Truth.
Previously Published on Elephant Journal