Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I can compare anything in life to a corn maze

I am a massive hypocrite. [We all are.] Most of the time I hardly notice my hypocrisy. [That's the way it goes.] Sometimes we don't know the truth, because frankly we don't know everything. [Oh, how it pains me to say . . .]  Sometimes we're sincere, but wrong. [And we never know the difference.]

This preludes the thought that's been germinating in my mind ever since Mary Claire mentioned it in a conversation last week. We don't know ourselves, not completely, we cannot know ourselves. We lack the perspective. Like being lost in a corn maze [I may or may not be speaking from memorable personal experience] we can tell where we're not, and where we want to be, but we're usually too entranced by what is directly around us to gain the perspective required to get out of the maze. [Sarah and Hannah and I rock corn mazes. We all should try one some time.] I don't know why things have to be that way, why it happens that we are so embroiled in the now and ourselves that we're blinded to seeing our true nature . . . I just know that's the way things are.

Actually, I lied. That is the thought that has been the prelude to this other thought. [You know, forget organization. I'm just talking. Deal with it.] [I'm speaking to my inner editor, of course.] [Who is now freaking out that I'm clarifying a parenthetical with another parenthetical which is in brackets, not parenthesis. Ten bucks this paragraph doesn't make it into the final draft.] [There. Now it will.]

I used to get really uptight about things that didn't matter. I used to be really critical of people. I used to speak at an incredibly loud and annoying decibel level. I used to seek attention desperately. I used to cry really easily. I used to be a packrat. I used to be afraid of talking about the things that were most important to me. I used to hate debate. I used to be scared of everything. I used to be a wicked procrastinator. I used have trouble making eye contact. I used to lie a lot. I used to be obsessed with fairness to a fault. I used to I used to I used to.

Some of those things were never true. Maybe I only think now that I used to hate debate, when in reality I always liked it. Further, some of those things are still true. Maybe I only think I like debate, when in reality I still hate it as much as I always did. Do you see what I mean? I feel like I am so mutable, and yet immutable at the same time. It's very frustrating. Who am I to measure who I used to be? That is hypocrisy to the extreme. Who I "used to be" is measured by who I am now. Since I cannot know the latter I cannot know the former. It is not arrogance to assume otherwise? Every time I say "I used to" I am lying to myself, no matter how sincerely I believe it.

I should like very much to know who I used to be and who I am and who I am going to be. [I feel as though I'm having my adolescence identity crisis about five years too late. Or maybe it's exactly on time. Or maybe I'm not having one at all.] I want the wisdom that comes from perspective, I want the understanding that comes from experience, I want the humility that comes from knowing how little I know. And I want to find a way to exercise empathy without using the phrase "I used to."


Luke said...

I couldn't quite understand you thought process in this post.=)

Change in our nature and personality is normal and to be expected as we seek to align ourselves with Christ. Don't try to over think yourself....there really is no point. Also there is nothing wrong with with showing empathy by using the phrase "I used to."

Hayley said...

Yeah, to quote Lorelai, my mind is a weird jungle of gibberish, it's kind of impossible to follow. :P

I guess what I meant was 1) I'm not sure I have changed, 2) I don't really remember who I used to be, 3) I'm not sure who I am now, so 4) saying "I used to" is hypocritical. But perhaps I am over-thinking.

Jake said...

Wow. I should hate that post because of it's obvious lack of organization, but I really love it.

It is a really interesting idea that I really think we could all benefit from thinking about.

The difference between "who we are" and "who we were" is often less than we would like to think.

[mc] said...

Hayley. this is...really..really weird. okay, so I decided to blog a minute ago. I noticed the 'blogs I follow' updates and all, and I saw your new post for a sec in the notification, but ignored it and clicked 'new post'. then I stopped, clicked the 'back' button, and decided to read it. oh to my surprise to find had just written about the exact same thing I was about to write.


I couldn't agree more with this post, Hayley.
*nods head in assent*
(I also get the feeling that this Luke fellow hasn't had this confused feeling before. If not, much envy ;) )

Art said...

Yes, yes. Ditto, everything. I can never analyze my current self, or my past self, I'm always too embroiled in my confusing and unobjective perspective to understand.

It bothers me when things I've labelled as "I used to"s still exist in the present.

When I try to look back and crystallize myself, I have no assurance that I'm any more sane than I used to be.

So, yeah. I'm with you and Mary Claire. :)

Micah E. said...

Who I am hates who I've been... but who I've been makes who I am. And we don't know who either of them are.


Who we are is now what we were, but how we were. To say that the present defines the past is wrong, the present describes the past. And, I think that we can know.

But, "I used to"... no. We were and are broken humans.

(not thinking enough before I write this)

Andrew said...

I'll just give you a piece of advice that I've had to swallow many times:

Whenever I say "I used to," I must then look at what I do now.

That's what you were getting at, I think, at the root of it all. Whether or not it is right to say "I used to," it must always be accompanied by self-examination. Otherwise, we may begin to think that we are past such things, whereas in truth nothing should be put past us.

Making sense? :-/

Hayley said...

Jake, Mary Claire, and Rebecca - :D

Micah - . . . I'm trying to understand, I guess I'm wondering, what's the difference between what we were and how we were? The present defines the past because (thank you 1984) human memory and experience is our only (non-reliable) way to measure who/how/what we used to be, and that's always seen through the lens of now.

Andrew - that was my point, but I guess you articulated it more concisely than I did. You make self-examination sound so easy, though, when I'm truly frustrated with how hard it is to know oneself.

In general, I think now I'm wondering, if we're never to the point of saying "I used to" where does God have victory in our lives? At what point do we become a testimony in comparing who we were with who God is shaping us to be? I should hope there's a difference between me when I first knew Him and me when I finally die - how do we give testimony to God through the change without "I used to be that and God made me this"? (Write your post, Mary Claire!)

Micah E. said...

I'm not thinking very clearly, but what I'm trying to say is that it seams that such an agnostic attitude towards self-examination makes examining ourselves pointless.

And, I don't think it is, I think that we can examine ourselves and find out the truth about ourselves. We need Gods help, that's all.

And, I think we need the phrase "I used to". You're right, it is a window for hypocrisy, but if we were different than we are now (which I think we can know) than what other phrase is there? "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see."

Michael said...

I, like the rest of you guys, loved this post. But I think you're being a bit too extreme. We cannot fully know who we are, but we can know partially who we are. God does change people (Sorry, House) and it is observable. In fact, we are constantly changing. I am not who I was, but I cannot fully know who I am or who I was. But I can better see who I was than who I am (I think because I am not that person any more, but in some sense that person "exists" in the past) Wow...that sounds so confusing. I think "I used to" is a perfectly legitimate expression. I used to be twelve is an example of a "true" theorum of the expression "I used to" See...I am looking more or less objectively back on who I was, a twelve year old...and comparing it to who I am, a sixteen year old.

There are times when it is harder to see who we used to be and who we are, more with motives and thoughts than actions. "I used to lie a lot" is much like saying "I used to be twelve" you no longer are, and seeing yourself lie is perfectly observable. While "I used to be prideful" is much tougher one...knowing ones own motives is a lot harder than knowing one's own actions! (e. g. "I used to hate debate")