Of Dogs and Onions

The Cast

As they play with the strings of karma and fate,

Taunting and pleading, asleep or awake.

Taking the lead, inappropriate at times,

Controlling the others, as they speak their lines.

The set always changing with each passing word,

Sometimes the silent, the most loudly heard.

Through all of the scenes, director or not,

They all take their places, leaving few empty spots.

They exit the stage when caught unrehearsed,

While everyone thinking that they should come first.

So many are they that the production undone,

All at the same time, they are only one.

Ancient Greek; Philosophy: Nous; the mind or intellect. Parrhesia: Expressing your truth as it is to you, freely, passionately, unflinching, even if it brings on penalties… including death.

Photo by Digs / Pexels

Although “The Cast” was written as a personal examination years ago, the context currently extended itself to the state of our world orders, societal divisions, and our perceived differences. Sometimes found in the deepest recesses of our insides are the key pieces of comprehension and understanding of the outsides that confound us. To find them though sometimes takes a long walk, or a wordy rambling exercise.

Walking along a cliff’s edge

Overwhelmed, short circuiting. Much of the last year has been spent on just doing the next indicated thing. Loss of all income, deaths, poor health, and the lack of seemingly viable life options can do that to the best of folk. Finding blatant truths about the difficulties in that life was as easy as waking up and trying to go forward somehow. That story though is not mine alone, and going forward is difficult when so many things don’t add up, don’t hit the senses like anything did before? As all of my personal complications piled up, the way through it all became a monotonous one step in front of the other exercise. It took conscious effort to stay out of those thoughts that would shut me down, throw me off balance, and connect me to the larger malaise. The very act of writing for me is one that utilizes that collectiveness, of being an antenna to those frequencies we share. That aspect of self was closed off, skipping over thoughts as a safety net. In those months I had a number of life events, news, and emotions that I just did not, or would not connect with fully while I stayed on that fine line of a cliff face. It was a self preservation mechanism as much as it was allowing for endings to happen, any deviation may lead into some abysmal unrecoverable madness.

In reality it was an uneven version of the above, a roller coaster ride of overwhelmed and underwhelmed, finding a balance, losing it – wash, rinse, repeat. This was not the same as those years of depression, it was not the same kind of anxiety that was so familiar. Even the health concerns, though spiking, were not the same. Within my inner compass some existential force had arrived, and I couldn’t recognize it because the world had more than curiously changed, it became difficult. The places of thought that were once bastions of sensibility were now more like confusing mazes, turned off, just like I was to those energies and actions that would lead to an unrecoverable madness. It wasn’t just me, I could not only sense this in others, I also heard it from them as they tell their stories online, in groups of friends and comments from strangers alike. Mostly seen under the context of some applied cognitive dissonance, this was like trying to ignore an elephant in the room that’s sitting on you and you still can’t figure out what it is? Something had changed and I wanted to understand, make sense of it better… and I was struggling.

The Old Greeks

When going through times of strife, struggles, managing your life, there are often points where the people from your past show up in words or memories. Demosthenes was an old friend, an old boss from years ago that was another father figure when my own was already deep into Alzheimer’s. When I was struggling with things in early adulthood, he would share his wisdom, his views on things with me. So I saw it fitting that when the searching for personal answers, ways through, solutions, and just sense making, it led me to reading up on some old Greeks. It wasn’t Demosthenes, the friend, or the master orator that cracked open a door to this grander path to understanding. It was a word recorded in a conversation with Diogenes, the Cynic. It was when Diogenes was asked what the most beautiful of all things, he replied… parrhesia, which in ancient Greek meant the free thinking, ultimate thinking, and expression. In describing it he used a phrase that spoke of our relationship with the truth, which was where my understandings started to fall into order again. Much like a game of Tetris.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov: Pexels

When I read those words, our relationship with the truth… A number of different mental cogs turned all at once, a key here and there was suddenly free to move, and I found a door or two opened in the process. When you’re stuck, any kind of movement is more noticeable. We all have our truths, we also have our relationships to those truths. Some are felt as black and white, unbending, matter of fact facts… Some are open for a bigger understanding, a better context that’s needed. What fell through the mechanisms was something else though. Those matter of fact facts were in various relationships, and the more malleable pieces carried a lot more weight than once assumed. I started understanding something I should have been more aware of, that an individuals truth is more subjective than I expected, and in relationships of all kinds, healthy and unhealthy, constructive and destructive. In examining my own truths I found my expectations and sense making were set at a different place than what I told myself. The relationship with any various truth is bound more to immediate needs and desires than it did the unmoving inner characterization that I had of it. Was it just me?


Why all of that was important is because is was necessary in trying to understand the world as it is now, after changes on the outside and within. To take a new picture instead of relying on your old ones. As we age we collect a number of prejudices, good, bad, irritating, and even hidden. Preferences and expectations are being set over time and deviations from those are likely to become more noticeable, and feel more problematic. In recent years the sheer number of preferences and expectations that had seemingly reset themselves in our societal composition, social allocations, and associated groupthinks are immense and still being felt and discovered. The truth was important in shaping or building anything going forward and I wanted to understand the moving pieces of it better. Because so much of it was coalescing into grander patterns, predictable behaviors, and continued forms of isolation. The written pieces being published these days from professional journals to the small blogs on the dusty outer edges of the web convey these things on a worldwide scale. Highlighting them as in the loneliness epidemic, the depression spiking, and heightened isolationism in living styles. A common question amongst them all are questions that abound about what the truth is anymore?

When Diogenes spoke about our relationship with the truth, it gave the concept of what we call truth another facet to view it in. It broke the spell so to speak, that the truth was something infallible, that it held the same equivalence as a fact when we use it in our day to day communications. I even asked the question outright on social media and got that kind of response predominately. Whether societal, environmental, or some other form of prestidigitation, the definition of truth and how it’s constructed and used in our thinking has become misshapen as it is used in our everyday communications. Truth is a very big deal when humans spend so much of our mental energies just trying to make sense of the world. I could go into the greater philosophical, and literal definitions of what truth is, and what it isn’t. But I am trying to describe a larger condition, one of those lazy human thinking parts that’s going on. When we hear the word truth in our communications, marketing, media, and society, it is presented in it’s relationship to the facts. That little skip over, and juxtaposition of definitions and usage in contemporary society has left us insecure. When the words truth, true, fact, and fiction become too commonplace, that is a point that should bear some contemplation? Mostly I find that people’s truths are facts with a belief involved, a viewpoint observed, or with an oath of character engaged. Once you apply beliefs to facts then it becomes subjective, objective, and something other than… fact.

Photo by Nicole Michalou : Pexels

The Blueprints

That is the part that has comforted me somewhat in building this new foundation. It isn’t the content of anyone’s facts, beliefs, truths, that have steeped my curiosity and calmed my sense making machinery. It wasn’t the content, but the wordsmith’s curiosity questioning the usage and societal construct. Something my linguist brother would be pleased about to be sure. Because coming to understand this part of decision making and belief systems better allowed me to see how so many construct their truths and the lives that come with those decisions they make. I have often spoken of the vast human universe of diversity, and yet here was another quadrant that I paid little attention to. When making sense of things, one of the first things we look at is what is around us, what is real, what is not? We have to trust our senses to keep us safe, to keep us within ourselves. We also have to trust that the information received is as correct as it can be, and as humans build our intuitive thoughts, the what comes next pieces of our internal safety net. Thoughts and plans for when things go differently than expected.

Security, safety, sense making, trust, honesty… The reason why the truth was important to highlight was the last part of the previous sentence. When we connect with people on any level we discern honesty, can we trust them? The information they use in their behaviors? Their daily lives? Understandably, the world has changed in the manner in which we associate with each other. It is the natural effects of the heightened insular living we have come to find ourselves in. Which means the amount of personal knowledge that people use to discern safe associations has been multiplied, our interpersonal safety nets thrown wide. Beliefs are beliefs, the door was opened. Sociologically, our mechanisms both external and internal that are used to discern, make sense, and keep safe, has become outsized. It has become so outsized, it has made life difficult, and thinking becomes harder, and as humans that’s not what we like to do. So we ignore, we dismiss, and in doing so strengthen our securities while simultaneously creating another mechanism, or wall of trust that we must apply.

The Foundations

These are some the divisors that we don’t see, the ones that work in the background of our experiences. When the background actions become apparent enough then a pattern arises and some seem to notice it while others simply don’t. When in society the level of discertion gets down to the personal and very personal, humans get defensive, they protect what they have and they fight in various ways for their individuality, their way of life, their truths. It has worked this way throughout the history of our species, it is heightened at this point because we are in a great shift of interpersonal connectedness. One that digresses from the thousands of years of practice and effort that we had achieved. The answers to seemingly simple things are not the same as before, they have changed, and their meanings and locations have too. As we build an understanding of the world as it is now, and of a future that is not as well defined as we like it to be, or expected it to be. It becomes important that we understand the bits and pieces that create the creature that is us, as it is to the understanding of the bits and pieces of the creature’s that are you and I.

Photo by Pixabay: Pexels

Humans will continue to break things down to good and bad, safe and unsafe, friend or foe, because it is a leftover piece of our primal survival mechanisms. Even though the information we use to judge, discern, and group others with is nuanced and filled with many a deep reflection, the actions taken are simplistic and predictable. We thrive off of seeing the differences because we are so very well trained to do so. Yet, our ability to see the commonalities are just as well developed, but those thoughts would also require some kind of acceptance, and that is not something we care to do. Because with acceptance comes empathy, and within that a degree of responsibility. We, as humans will continue to do this until it stops working altogether. I am not the only one noticing though. As others have noted in their views of this kind of subject we may already be very deep into a different reality than we believe we are in.

I have found that my intellectual and cognitive sensitivities are sensitive involving communications and the micro/macro sized patterns that show up in my perceptions. In those perceptions it feels as if we are slipping backwards through our own believed communicational advances, while closing off pieces of our human condition in our efforts. It is very much like the frog basking in his luck to find a hot spring, unsuspecting that he will soon be dead from too much of a good thing. It is within that too much of a good thing that in return just becomes too much to handle. Trying to figure out how to make sense of a world headed for the hot spot of the spring is like asking a frog what the thermometer says? It is apparent that we as a social species are going through a great change in how we connect and interact with each other. The personal nature of it all is taking its toll in our collective nature, the use of it for division is greater than its use for inclusion. In seeing this pattern, this piece of us that goes unspoken of, it helps me understand things I didn’t quite get before. The way we build our truths, our beliefs, and with that, our worldview, is more complex than the simplistic definitions that cage our thoughts, guide our behaviors, and how we interact with others. In our stumbling manners we will get through this as well, what it will look like I have no idea. I am grateful to be able to see parts of this as it is happening, to alleviate some of the confounding aspects that the world is presenting these days. I may be correct, I may just be seeing things, but it makes me wonder, and Diogenes would be pleased with my nous parrhesia.

Photo by Koufos Spiridon: Pexels

Leave a Reply

A WordPress.com Website.

%d bloggers like this: