“Truth” and other lies

A while ago, I was listening to a discussion on NPR about the Trump administration and its drive to ‘win’ at all costs, including at the cost of things like decency, morality, and the truth. I agree with the speaker’s assessment; Trump is a master of manipulating the public and the media, and he and his co-horts will do anything to “win.” And to that end the lies flow out of him and his administration so quickly and rapidly that it’s hard to keep up.

The lie, or rather lies, at that particular moment were: “there were no meetings with Russians… okay there was, but there was no discussion of the election… okay there was, but there was no collusion… okay well what’s so wrong with collusion?”

Some of those who support Trump are equally willing to go to any lengths to defend him. They condemn liberal media for wanting to attack Trump, and any kind of criticism or judgment levied against Trump is a flat out lie or biased partisan attempt to bring Trump down. Every new event or statement coming out of the White House triggers another tussle between the right and left over the real version of what happened, the real version of the “Truth.”

Full disclosure, I am a Democrat and a liberal, and I get most of my news from NY Times and CNN. For many reasons which I won’t get into here, I align with the left more. But this post isn’t about the left versus the right; rather it’s about the supposed monopoly over the truth that both sides claim to have.

The liberal media has certainly made mistakes as well, and I am not saying that the left is always right and that the right is always wrong (and that wrong is always right? =P) I try my best to stay mindful of my own biases; I even downloaded the Fox News app on my phone so I can periodically listen to ‘the other side’ to get a reality check.

There are certain facts that are pretty much irrefutable by intelligent, reasonable people (like the law of gravity), but I think such facts are actually very limited. Most ‘facts’ in life are highly subjective and contextual, and it’s difficult to come to a real consensus about the Truth.

Whenever there are conflicting views or claims on the Truth, there are usually at least some facts or beliefs that the different sides agree on, and I think we should focus on those in order to start working towards a compromise. The way I see it, it’s like a Venn diagram; there is my truth, and there is the other’s truth, but there is a core Truth that is shared by both, and by starting from there we could perhaps even expand that shared ground and reconcile our different truths.  That is assuming, of course, that both sides are willing to cooperate.

So that was my philosophical musing on the topic of the truth. To conclude, I will leave you with this little mind twister:

Everything I say is a lie.

0_O

 

 

Me, Myself, and I… and I… and I

I consider myself to be a perpetual student of life, always striving to learn, grow, and improve. There are huge benefits to that: excitement, novelty, and the deeply satisfying feeling of making progress in one’s own life.

There is a downside to that as well, however. Sometimes, I discover so many different nooks and crannies within myself, and sometimes I change so suddenly and unpredictably that it can be quite disorienting and scary. I am like those Russian dolls, where I keep opening up a new layer only to discover another unfamiliar face staring back at me.

As I constantly strive to grow and improve, that inevitably entails a lot of change and I find myself wondering – who is the true Lyna? Am I shedding the “untrue” parts of me to reach my eventual core true self (whatever that may be), or am I at any given moment just a temporary confluence of characteristics, all subject to change at any time?

They say what differentiates the human species is that we are aware of being aware. I think about myself being aware of myself, being further aware of myself, and I can just picture my brain cascading into itself, like the different worlds in the movie Inception. Or a snake that’s eating its own tail… I think that’s enough of a head trip for tonight.

It may sound banal, but I actually think there’s nothing more significant in this universe than the fact that we are aware of being aware. Without that awareness, we would be like plants and animals, existing and living but not aware that we exist and live. And if we are not aware that we exist and live, then we might as well not exist and live because there would be no way of knowing it…

Maybe that core awareness or consciousness is as close to a definition of “true self” as we will ever get. Maybe if we all just keep chipping away at ourselves to reach our core truth, there will eventually be nothing left but an invisible, intangible awareness, an energy that is there and also everywhere.

That would mean that everything else in our personal identities is impermanent, malleable, and ultimately meaningless. Our gender, ethnicity, personality traits, and even our physical bodies would just be window dressing for what we truly are inside.

I find that incredibly terrifying and liberating at the same time.

 

 

Blog Post #2

It has been a long standing goal of mine to have a blog or a website, some platform where I can share my thoughts and stories with the world. For the past five years or so that I’ve had this blog, I would sporadically throw a few words or pictures onto a post, twiddle with them for a while, then revise or delete.

Why do I, like millions of others, feel the urge to create a personal blog? I think there’s something instinctual and biological in this urge, this impulse to create something. It’s an incredibly powerful impulse, like our bodies’ impulse to procreate even when our conscious minds protest.

Equally strong, however, are the various forces holding back the creative impulse. The ones that have been holding me back are perfectionism (not wanting to create something that won’t be perfect), fear (believing I may be criticized, ridiculed, etc), and just plain inertia (drifting through life fixated on its myriad trivialities).

The other major reason I’ve found it difficult to write consistently is the belief that I should think of something meaningful and important to say all on my own, and only then should I write. But I’m realizing that I can’t just sit there and wait for inspiration to strike me like lightning; I need to actively cultivate the muse within me and co-create with that muse, whatever that muse may be.

The painter Chuck Close said: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” I realized I’ve been waiting for that inspiration to come to me, when really what I should do is just show up and get to work.

Elizabeth Gilbert talked about this in her TED talk titled “Your elusive creative genius.” She spoke about how in the modern western culture, creativity and genius are seen as coming from the individual creators themselves, but in ancient Greece and Rome, they were thought of as coming from a source other than the individual, a “daemon” or a “genius” that existed separately from the individual. The individual is then seen as more of a vessel, a messenger who simply delivers a message. This reduces the importance of the individual in the creative process, but it also relieves the individual from all the pressure and responsibility of having to create everything on his or her own.

I have been a messenger out of commission for a long time. I felt that I was not a daemon or genius, that I was not a ‘creative person,’ so I sat in the sidelines waiting for myself to become one. Now, I believe it’s not about me becoming a creative person, or becoming anything else; I see it as me doing my part and stepping up to the plate so that the universe can throw me something I can work with. Sometimes I may have my own message to deliver, but most of the time I just need to stand with arms poised to receive the message that I am to deliver.

Okay now I’m mixing metaphors here. The bottom line is, I now see it as my responsibility as a creator to step up to the plate, and to do that consistently and regularly, so that I can receive whatever messages the universe wants me to deliver and then deliver it. I am not responsible for creating everything on my own, but I am responsible in doing my part and meeting my daemons and geniuses halfway.

That is why I decided last week to start writing at least 2 blog posts each week. Every week, I will sit myself down in front of my computer and plant my fingertips on the keys of my board until at least 2 blog posts flow out of me.

It is Sunday evening, almost midnight, so I am going to barely get this second post out in time. I had no idea what to write about, so after some pondering, I decided to write about this very struggle for me to write. Daemon/genius, thank you for the assist.

So there you have it, world, my Blog Post #2 for this week.

Good night!

Fireworks

I took a nice walk around my neighborhood after dinner tonight.

It’s July 4th, Independence Day. Instead of hanging out with friends or family, I chose to spend it by myself. I’ve been disgruntled with much in my life lately, but tonight, as I celebrate the independence of our country by myself, I choose to be grateful for my own independence.

As the sky became darker, the roar of the fireworks began. I could hear it booming from various directions. Up 4th street, looking towards Downtown, I could even see the tops of the colorful explosions stretching above the buildings and trees.

Back inside my apartment, I can still hear the thundering explosions. From one direction, a rapid series of overlapping booms; that must be the grand finale.

I think about all the people gazing out into the night sky, mesmerized by the spectacular display of lights and colors. Though I may not be near them, I share in their joy, awe, and childlike fascination from afar.

It’s good to know there is beauty out there even if I can’t see it. 🙂

Mutual Reality

 

What is “Reality,” and how do we define it? Does absolute reality exist independent of our observations? And how do we coexist in society if our personal realities conflict?

A year or two ago, I was fascinated to learn about the double-slit experiment, which sought to determine the fundamental nature of matter and whether it consisted of waves or discrete particles.

In the experiment, first carried out by Thomas Young in the early 1800’s, light (a form of matter) was sent through a wall with two narrow slits. Behind the wall was another wall which captured the light coming through the slits. The experiment showed that when light went through the two slits, it behaved like waves, with the light from each slit interfering with the other and creating a rippled pattern on the back wall.

Double-Slit Experiment - light as waves

This in itself was not too surprising. However, the real shock came when a measurement device was set up to determine exactly how the light went through the two slits. When observed in this way, the light then behaved like particles, passing straight through the two slits.

Double-Slit Experiment - light as particles

In conclusion, experimenters found that matter behaved both like waves and like particles, and the mere act of observation could change it from waves to particles. This finding revolutionized the field of quantum mechanics and still remains unexplained today, leaving in place large unanswered questions about the nature of matter and whether objective reality even exists.

The fact that our observations can change the nature of matter calls into question everything we perceive to be real in this world. This phenomenon, also called the observer’s effect, suggests that what is “real” is whatever we perceive to be real, and there is no objective reality independent of our observation.

If this doesn’t send your mind into a tailspin, I don’t know what will.

Most of us go about our days treating our personal realities as if they were the absolute reality, and indeed society would fall apart if we all went about questioning the existence or truth of everything. At the same time, that is what causes people to live in alternate and conflicting realities, even as they share the same households, religions, or socio-economic status.

We humans are a social, relational creature, and we are constantly organizing and labeling ourselves in ways that both unite and divide. But right now, the sense of division is at an all-time high in the world, both in my home country, the United States, and my birth country, South Korea.

In both countries, political divisions have become so heated and so deeply personal as to become an epic battle over reality itself.  Each side is so fiercely entrenched in their own version of reality that they cannot see anything from the perspective of the other. In such a divided environment, how can we ever find common ground for people to work and live together?

I think the greatest source of hope lies in the very phenomenon that gives rise to this conflict; if our perceptions dictate our realities, and we can choose what we perceive, then we can always choose to perceive in ways that harmonize and don’t conflict with the others.

Double-Slit Experiment - light as particles Dems Repubs

Easier said than done, I know, but I think the mere awareness of this choice alone will radically change the way we relate to each other. If we don’t pay attention to the differing versions of reality and talk at each other in a messy undiscerning environment, all we will get is a chaos of waves and ripples with conflicting and interfering beliefs. But if we take a moment to see through the lens – or the slit – that the others are seeing through, maybe we will find an orderly procession of thoughts and beliefs that can run parallel to each other, even if they never coincide or merge.

Differences among people are inevitable, and therefore a certain level of conflict is also inevitable. But the same exact thing can be said for similarities and harmony, and it’s up to each of us to decide what to focus on.

At the intersection of our differing truths is a mutual truth, or mutual reality, a common ground upon which we can find mutually beneficial solutions to our problems. That is my truth, and that is how I choose to see it. Venn Diagram - My and Your Truths