Facing the Answers

On the introvert-extrovert scale, I am the text book example of the socially less-desirable end. I’m one of those strange creatures that retreats to the back room in the middle of parties, reads encyclopedias for fun, and doesn’t seem to have much to say. I like being alone.

I enjoy sitting in silence, wandering through the woods of my mind and observing the scenery.

Many people don’t understand that. I have friends that jump from relationship to relationship, unsure of what to do with themselves when alone for more than a few minutes. I know people who check into their social media accounts every five minutes, just in case someone else’s “right now” is more interesting than their own. I’ve seen children that, despite being too young to make their own decisions, are handed electronic devices and thus stripped of the opportunity to experience boredom, lonesomeness, and creative self-exploration.

“We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.”

―Terence McKenna

The world is filled to the brim with uncertainties and discrepancies. It’s often hard to face the difficult questions, to face the grim realities of life. As our parents and grandparents age, fear grows in our minds like the rancid stench of butchered gazelle decaying on the savanna. We are reminded of our own mortality, our own fragility.

So we try to be strong. We erect walls around our hearts, built from colorful cardboard bricks. We turn away from discomfort, we subdue feelings of pain. We invite fear into our lives and give him a mask of courage, anger, and masculinity.

We invite fear into our lives without even realizing it.

Fear prohibits us from living fully. Yet, fear is the silence of an empty night; too often, we don’t even realize that we’ve invited a cruel and controlling house-guest into our personal space.

I’ve read time and time again that it is hugely advantageous to “do one thing each day that scares you.” Through the identification, confrontation, and conquering of fear, perhaps we will come to learn his face. Then, perhaps, it will be easier for us to turn him away when he shows up eager to steal away our emotional energy.

“The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer. “

–Terence McKenna

We must find the courage to entertain new ideas and think new thoughts. This may entail facing fears, losing old friends, and learning to savor the sweet aroma of solitude.

We must expand our exposure to both inner wisdom and external inspiration. We must learn to take in the world around us, observing both the obvious and the nuanced. We must learn to make new connections and view life through the lens of metaphorical poetry.

We have the opportunity in this life–in the here and the now–to explore our own consciousness, and I believe this is where our personal sense of meaning is buried. The treasures of life are beneath our very own feet, before our eyes, and in our hearts; the sound of our buzzing metal detectors is drowned out by our inner critic–the ever-repeating “you’re no one” and you don’t deserve it.”

We seek answers endlessly, often to fruitless questions and concerns, when the answers lie within. Yet, as with the fear of death, we struggle to face our own truth.

“The cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.”

–Terence McKenna

Throughout my life, I’ve repeatedly been faced with a sense of lonesomeness, of not being understood, of not fitting in. With time, I’ve developed some special friendships with people who are like-minded, like-hearted, and on a similar path. They are few in numbers, but they are my safe haven for sharing ideas, emotions, and aspirations. (If you feel that sense of alienation currently, join a meetup group with shared interests or compliment strangers at your favorite events. It’s terrifying, but highly rewarding. They’re out there.)

It would be my dream for everyone to one day wake up to their own truth, to begin giving a damn about one another. But I am not holding my breath. So, instead, for the sake of my own sanity, I show up in my own life. I carve out the time to ask myself the difficult questions, and open my heart in ways that allow me to begin to face the answers that lie deep within. 

11 thoughts on “Facing the Answers

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  1. Reblogged this on Forge By Fire and commented:
    “We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” ―Terence McKenna
    Such a great read…

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  2. I followed because a search of “Terence McKenna” led me here, but I am truly impressed with your blog’s honesty. I think that the most important thing that global discourse lacks is an honesty to the self that I was so happy to find in another McKenna fan. You write beautifully, and I look forward to more writing like this. You are one of many that give me hope in a world that seems so desperate for it. You’ve gained a true fan, here.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Steven, and for your kind words. Yes, I completely agree that the global discourse lacks honesty, and it’s hard to find just about anywhere. On a related note, I listened to a podcast this morning where Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings discussed “How Everything Is Funny Now, and Why That’s Terrible,” where he argues that the meme culture, politicians on late night comedy shows, and Twitter jokes in immediate response to bad news (e.g. when IKEA founder died, people wrote comments like, “hope his coffin came with an Allen wrench!” Funny? Yes. Appropriate? Not so much). Humanity is losing its capacity for empathy, authenticity, and raw honesty because everything is made into a joke. I had never thought of it that way, but I’m realizing that’s a key reason way I do NOT miss being on social media.
      McKenna functioned on an entirely different level and captured so much wisdom, and it’s great to connect with another fan. He was a bit controversial, but I think that world needs people like him–those willing to speak their truth, at the risk of offending others or being ostracized. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog, as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree that maybe comedy does hit a sore spot in times of struggle or tragedy. Comedy is just tragedy given time, though. It’s tough to find the sweet spot that a killer joke can be made on a touchy subject and remain in good taste. The worst thing about the culture Twitter has given us is that people aren’t given the time to explain themselves. An attention span reduced to 140 characters isn’t ever going to grasp that a person is being nuanced or facetious, nor would any 140 character response suffice to explain nuance or facetiousness. I don’t outright disagree that some things are best left untouched by comedians, but I still hold comedy as the best way for someone like a McKenna or a George Carlin to point out hypocrisy. Responsibility then lies in the audience to take the time to digest what is said fully. Empathy has always been our biggest issue, but we were at least able to dwell on something controversial for longer than a goldfish might before this meme culture.

        Ironic that McKenna spoke so much about the importance of memes.

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      2. I agree entirely–comedy, especially in this day and age, is the best way to get people to pay attention and to point out hypocrisy. Those with a message need to speak in the language of the population. Churches try to attached new parishioners with clever one-liners posted on welcome sings, Geico insurance pulls in new customers through use of a silly gecko, and some of the most brilliant minds have helped niche ideas spread more widely through use of humor. On the one-hand, humor requires understanding and cleverness; yet, on the other, it often eliminates the space necessary for serious contemplation and analysis. Our current society, at large, reminds me a bit of the movie “Idiocracy,” yet I think there are also small factions of people, like McKenna, who are using memes and symbolism as tools to communicate deeper truths. It’s really fascinating, and I don’t necessarily think humor is good nor bad, but rather the mainstream communication tool of 2018–a tool that can be used to spread wisdom, to manipulate the populous, to point out hypocrisy, and to dissuade people from thinking critically.

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      3. So it seems you agree that it’s useful in it’s own right, but intent is what truly matters. So we agree that the world is lacking in well-intended people.

        The comparison to Idiocracy is terrifying. Because I know that President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho at least had better intentions than what we’re dealing with in the States today.

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      4. Yes, I would agree with that. I love humor and it absolutely has it’s place, but I think intent makes a big difference–very broadly speaking, humor is either saying “look at me!” or “consider this issue…” Obviously the latter can be a helpful tool, whereas that former is self-serving and less conductive to fostering change.

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