Friday, 8 January 2010

Better to be true?

The two lines that hang around in my head most from the poem in the last post are these:

'It's horrible to know yourself
But better to be true'

I think about them quite a bit because although they look kind of simple (and they are simple) they are also fairly tricky at the same time. It is perhaps a bit of a counselling-culture obsession (trying to know yourself) and many people (especially some writers, I'm sure) would say it's impossible, a waste of time, a simplistic nonsense...but then sometimes the harder or more impossible something is the more we want to do it (don't we?). Do we give up that easily? Are we wimps?

So, rather than a long post (all about me...) all I'm going to post today is a series of questions. You don't have to answer any of them here...really they're just things to think about...but what I really don't want are quick, smart answers that mean nothing (hell, I could come up with them myself). So here you are...have a think on some of these:


Do you think that you know yourself in any sense? Do you care? And if you don't care...why is that?

Do you like yourself much?

What would you change about yourself if you could (and I'm talking personality...not physical changes)? And if there is something you would like to change...why haven't you just got on and changed it? What's stopped you?

When you look in a mirror do you smile or flinch (again...it's the concept of yourself that I'm thinking about here more than your physical attributes...though they may be linked)?

Do you really treat people the way you'd like them to treat you? What always?*

Do you think you've contributed anything positive to the societies that you've lived in? Do you think that matters anyway?

What do you find really, really difficult?

If you are a person who writes then why is that? Think about the reasons and which ones are the most significant to you (practising honesty to the point of death!).



OK, that will probably do for now. January always seems to have me in this tiresome, why-what-how mood (birthday approaching and other factors no doubt). It will pass. Bear with.**


x

*Sainthoods available on request.
**If you watched the BBC sitcom 'Miranda' this reference will mean something to you. Otherwise...not a chance.

23 comments:

Alan Burnett said...

If someone asks a question, I always try to answer. Thus : N,NR,DK,Y.NM,DK,NT,Y,Y,NR,NR,P,DK.
Where N=no, NR=not really, DK=don't know, Y=yes,NM=not much, NY=neither, and P-plenty.

Titus said...

Intriguing, and definitely January questions. I'll ponder...

Jim Murdoch said...

Do you think that you know yourself in any sense? Do you care? And if you don't care...why is that?

Know, perhaps but understand, no. It used to worry me but not so much. I’ve come to realise that any answer I could come up with would be so involved as to make it meaningless.

Do you like yourself much?

Not especially.

What would you change about yourself if you could (and I'm talking personality...not physical changes)? And if there is something you would like to change...why haven't you just got on and changed it? What's stopped you?

I would like the brain fog to go away. I could work around everything else if it did. Fundamentally who I am is set in stone. All I need to do is avoid things and situations that exacerbate my weaker personality traits.

When you look in a mirror do you smile or flinch (again...it's the concept of yourself that I'm thinking about here more than your physical attributes...though they may be linked)?

Grue.

Do you really treat people the way you'd like them to treat you? What always?*

No. Because not everyone would want to be treated that way.

Do you think you've contributed anything positive to the societies that you've lived in? Do you think that matters anyway?

Yes. It’s a primary driving force, to have a meaningful life.

What do you find really, really difficult?

Pretty much everything. That sounds facetious but it’s not. There’s a misanthropic bugger living inside me who really, really wants to be left alone.

If you are a person who writes then why is that? Think about the reasons and which ones are the most significant to you (practising honesty to the point of death!).

Because my brain can’t hold onto everything. I need to get some of it out so that I can think. Being unable to write is horrible. It’s like mental constipation.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting questions. As to answers - well, nowadays I don't even ask the questions. My philosophy has always been "to thine own self be true" - I do try to live by it - of course it doesn't always work but as I have not really got a huge number of years left then I just need to get on with it rather than look inward. Does this make sense or does it make me seem self-satisfied? I wonder - I hope I am not but now, having read your questions I begin to think may be I should think about it a bit. Oh dear - you may have opened a can of worms! Keep warm in this snow.

Rachel Fenton said...

I have an overwhelming urge to go against the grain - in all things. I am an impulsive and reactionary smart arse to the point where I say something ascerbic and witty without thinking through the consequences. I do care, both in the sense that I care what my actions will do to others - how they will make them feel - and I care that if my actions are interpreted negatively, that negativity may come back on me (so it's both selfish and not selfish). Also I think I have more contradictions than a bag of elbows.

Rachel Fox said...

Alan...phew...bit of crossreferencing there! What is NT?
Glad to hear you like yourself anyway - I think it can be one of the hardest things to manage but it is important in many ways (we don't need to LOVE ourselves necessarily but liking ourselves isn't a bad idea...). Do I like myself..? Sometimes. Certainly not all the time. But I'm working on it.

Titus - so good to have you back. We like you!

Jim - grue?

Weaver - yes I feel myself moving away from some of these questions as years go by...in a sense as they become answered more satisfactorily. I think maybe one of my vague resolution type things this year is to get to a place where I feel happier about some of my answers and then...move on!

Rachel - ah, yes...more in common...contradictory smart arses unite!

x

Niamh B said...

Very thought provoking Rachel - think I'll take a few days to mull and post as a meme...Thanks!

Sorlil said...

I can barely keep up with posts at the moment but I'd love to come back and answer these!

Rachel Fox said...

Oh no Niamh...are you saying I've started a meme! Perhaps the ultimate me me me meme... I was wondering today would I put any answers to these questions online. I'm not sure I will. But I am thinking about them. Often...

And Sorlil...yes, those babies keep a girl busy! When my girl was little I wasn't online much and my main writing occupation was writing the stories that are on my website. I'd call them short stories but on the whole they're fairly long. I used to write when she slept in the afternoon.

And no rush with answers here. These are long-term questions really. Just stuff.

x

Titus said...

And we like you!
Deep thoughts required here, but I think, like Niamh, I might try it. Especially since I haven't had a deep thought for a couple of weeks.

Totalfeckineejit said...

'No quick smart answers that don't mean anything?'

Yikes Scoob,
dems da only one's I's got !

hope said...

Hmmm, I will ponder further so as not to be too snappy or silly. :)

Whilst listening to Craig Ferguson reading his biography to me on the way home, he mentioned being a drummer with "The Dreamboys" in his "drunken youth". Ring any bells?

swiss said...

yes, no, not bothered, totally, smile, yes, absolutely, yes, no, mechanical things, like i ask myself why i'm breathing!

Sorlil said...

I love personality analysis, enjoy reading about others, hope you'll be answering the q's too!


1 I think I know myself extremely well but I probably think I know myself better than I actually do!

2 Yes I do! I’ve hated myself in the past and made it my goal to become the person that I currently am.

3 I wish I found it easier to make small talk – the kind you have to do when you bump into folk in the street. I’m currently trying to change that by making a real effort to talk to people rather than trying to avoid them or get away from them as quickly as possible.

4 Again I’m happy and very comfortable with being me.

5 That’s a hard one, I’m a good listener but tend to view other people’s issues as problems to be solved rather than empathize with them. But we all need people to empathise with us.

6 Not particularly but I think it does matter, I’d like to contribute more in the future.

7 Making myself vulnerable to anyone.

8 I guess it functions as an outlet for emotional angst that I otherwise struggle to deal with (but also of course because I love poetry, matching words, sounds and images together etc etc)

Rachel Fox said...

You not have a deep thought, Titus...don't believe it!

TFE...me too a lot of the time, but we can't always fall back on that can we? Maybe 90% of the time...

Hope - well, I certainly had a drunken youth! Was there a band called that (should have been if not). As for Dreamboys...I thought they were one of those stripper groups like Chippendales. But it's not really my area.

Swiss - such confidence in your answers - quite invigorating! And pleasing to read. And I wonder...can you say it doesn't matter about positive contributions because you know you have made some (at work, for example)? Is it those of us who are not so sure about what we've contributed who worry about it more! Or are you just more sure about things...I hardly ever feel sure about anything. I think.

And Sorlil...
I love your number 2 - with you there really.
Small talk - when in doubt ask a question! Most people like to talk about their own lives...and you don't have to give too much away about your own...
5 - boy, have I been guilty of that one! I think the former GP Dad and ex Social Worker Mum have something to do with it.
6 - yes, one of life's great challenges...to find the right place to be useful and to what/whom!

Thanks all for your comments here so far. Fascinating...and useful somehow I'm sure.
x

sunnydunny said...

Do you think that you know yourself in any sense?

All your actions spring from a core set of characteristics which make up your individual identity. If you want to know why you act in particular ways in particular circumstances you have to know something of that identity. If you want to change yourself, you have to know what the initial conditions are. There’s a paradox here, at least for those of us who practice Zen. You have to lose ‘self’ in order to reach true enlightenment, and yet you need to know self in order to lose it.

Do you like yourself much?

I’m not sure that ‘like’ is the appropriate word here. I am content in myself. I don’t feel any need to beat myself up about things that I can’t change.

What would you change about yourself if you could?

Over the years I have changed many things in my personality. Some have been easy, others difficult.

When you look in a mirror do you smile or flinch?

Neither. I just see and recognise myself.

Do you really treat people the way you'd like them to treat you? What always?

Yes, and yes. That’s not to say I treat everyone the same, because they’re not.

Do you think you've contributed anything positive to the societies that you've lived in? Do you think that matters anyway?

That would be for others to say. I haven’t acted in order to make a positive contribution. I’ve done things because I saw a need to do them to, and because I knew I could do them.

What do you find really, really difficult?

I truly believe that anyone can do anything they really want to do.

If you are a person who writes then why is that?

Writing is all about communication. I can’t not communicate.

hope said...

Ah, more of the book advises it was a punk rock band out of Glasgow at the time.

I'm still pondering my answers.

Rachel Fox said...

SD Colin - the answers of a true scientist! Brilliant. I've been having a go at my answers and they are much more waffly!

And Hope...no rush. Better to think about them properly than rush out answers I think because these are fairly huge questions in some ways. I didn't really expect anyone to answer them at all...and I expected at least one 'what a load of navel-gazing rubbish'.

x

Rachel Fox said...

Maybe that's being saved for when/if I do post my own answers.
x

Crafty Green Poet said...

These are great questions, too much for my brain early on a Sunday but I'll ponder and may return with some answers...

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I banged my head on the desk for a while and came up with some answers eventually, CGP!
x

Liz said...

Hi Rachel, stimulating and dare I say, daring, that demand daring answers...it sort of fits in with what I'm up to my eye-teeth with at the moment as I write a year long syllabus of study for adult learners - different ways to reflect on ourselves ( from learning to dreams to day-to-day stuff)...when I get my quota's worth of study done for today I'll try to get back to you on this...reckon I need a good 'what you about?' type of spring-clean or similar just now..! ; )

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Liz, I think there is something of a spring-clean to it all. We've had the nonsense of Xmas...now it's time to get back to work!
x