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."