The Most Difficult Thing in the Entire World?

What do you think this might be?

The wife and I have been talking about how people from different countries behave and how they interact. Germans and Dutch are different from Brits, Americans are more in your face, the French subtle and the Southern hemisphere are a little more open. This is but a sketch. There is, in this country, a bizarre way of beating around the bush.

I have come up with a working hypothesis in this regard, see if you agree with it:

The most difficult thing in the entire world is being simple, straightforward and honest.

There is terrible fear of our naked-ness, metaphorically speaking. What is so wrong with it? To approach something with open hands and open hearts is more terrifying than root canal work without anaesthetic. There is so much power in open hands open hearts, it is a gentle apolitical power and not power over. It has a bouquet of humility and whether you believe it or not, there is a kind of power in genuine humility.

Having cued this up:

Is my hypothesis sound and applicable?

Is Humility Hard?

This question is very open. I suspect that genuine humility is scarce, what do you think?

One may assume that one has some humility, but one never knows until tested. There are many things which we cannot bring ourselves to either admit or do, because we lack sufficient humility. And humility may be in our minds, only for the little people. “I don’t have to do that”. It is a strange thing this humility.

There is a lot of arrogance and know-it-all in our modern times. Each of us has that very important opinion that must be heard and taken account of, even when that opinion is not a considered one. Because of the internet there are now hundreds of millions of soap-boxes. This is mine. Many fancy themselves arbiters of knowledge and wisdom, they may even make a living therefrom.

A part of humility must be knowing when and where your knowledge stops.

A part of humility is being responsible for your own actions and thoughts.

To understand humility, one has to look at its opposite “pole” self-importance, this is less scarce so there is plenty of it to see. It is probably easier to work at eradication of self-importance than it is to try to cultivate humility. One has to weed the flower bed, so to speak. And in focusing on this reduction of self-importance humility quite naturally starts to grow. Given space it just evolves. But whilst we are full of self-righteous indignation, pompous self-importance and vanity, there is no space.

Many would choke on this notion of humility. You can see public relations humility, say when a corrupt official pretends, goes on gardening leave, for strategic purposes. All the while they are spitting nails quietly. It is a humbling experience through which they do not gain humility, only resentment.

When we are brought face to face with our own ego, we do not like it overmuch. And even when we think we have it done, we are wrong. There are many false summits. Our vanity and arrogance can quickly flair up again.

Having cued this up:

Do I have humility?

Is it hard?

Is there any point in cultivating this humility thing?

The Light Jewel 18 – Courage

In case you haven’t already noticed we are in an 18 year. The light jewel associated with the number 18 is courage. A jewel is a type of quality, a mood, a flavour even. This means that 2018 may both require courage and provide a great opportunity in which to express courage. I have been waffling on about courage and fear for a purpose. Failure to express courage is -18 and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what a lack of courage is.

In numerology 18 reduces to 9, completion. This means that where there is sufficient courage we can finally bring something to completion. Should we find our balls and our spines, 2018 could work out rather well. If not, then the unresolved will remain a mess.

Overall the year is 2 + 0 + 1 + 8 = 11 which reduces to 2 (1 + 1). We also have a double occurrence of 2. This jewel is humility and understanding, it also can refer to destiny. 11 is also a power number, which denotes a requirement, i.e., there is no option.

If we act with humility, understanding and courage we can further our destiny in 2018, by achieving some measure of completion.

That sounds pretty good to me!

If we don’t act in this manner we may learn humility the hard way. There is a danger of being knelt by the universe…

Transcending Face

Sooner or later and in one way or another we all have to learn a little humility. That may be when someone shoves a colonoscope all the way around to your ileocecal valve, or when you need glasses or a hearing aid. Should we make it that far, some measure of infirmity awaits us all. If we are unprepared, then it is not so easy. If we accept our fate, things run smoother. We may have the pleasure of a catheter and piss bag awaiting us, who knows for sure? But if you are offended by corporeal indignity, it is harder to bear. What gets in the way is our Face or social self-image. We are pretty puny but many act otherwise. Surrounded by the accoutrements of our society and the trappings of our power, we swell. Put a powerful man alone at night in the jungle and you will soon get to see his mettle.

This Face is so very debilitating on many levels and it is something we defend as if it were real and made of the most precious substances in the known universe. And so often we cut off our nose to spite our face. Face gets in the way of love, of friendship and right relations. Our Face is kin to our status, another precious, so like Sméagol we become. Our status and our Face, can be besieged and taken from us. In the jungle or the endoscopy clinic, they are not of much use. Our perspective as social beings does not gel with the wider reality.

We are lucky here, there is not much light pollution and every night, without fail, I step outside and see the sky. When there are no clouds, I see the majesty of the universe. “Behold, Alan, the only thing greater than you!” to paraphrase Roots. Only I know that I am but a gnat’s fart in the cosmic scheme. I have seen the night sky in both hemispheres and dawn on top of Mt. Sinai. That sense of the stupendous, so easily lost in the hubris, grounds one. It sows a seed of some humility, which if nurtured grows. It is poisoned by the toxins of arrogance and pride, it withers easily. And it is by seed of humility that one starts to transcend this Face thing. Metaphorically or in real life, it is no bad thing to kneel and accept one’s limitations.

But until one starts to see how destructive this Face is, there is little if any motivation to do anything about it.

Here are some questions pertaining:

What is the cost of Face to me?

What price has it exacted of me in the past?

What damage have I done to preserve Face?

Other Worlds and Local Reality

Unless you are a visitor from another planet, then your home world is Earth. Yet within this planetary domain there are many different “worlds” and differing realities. Even within countries those “worlds” vary. When these “worlds” collide miscommunication, misunderstanding and prejudice are common. Although I live about forty miles from London, my world is not the same. We share a commonality of language, currency and many other things. But, out here, there is less noise, less commotion and generally lower stress levels. Although I once lived in the city I am now more bumpkin than city-folk. They have strange ways them city-folk.

Perhaps my use of “world” is a little extreme. But think about it for a while. If one grows up in a village in rural Africa, then the components of that world, its values, its beliefs, differ from metropolitan London. The whole basis of interaction is different, yes there is commonality, yet the mores and ethos are not the same. There is a tendency for people to only interpret things through the lens of their world-version. What is customary in one place is weird and strange in another. Until one has experienced the sensory onslaught of say Africa, one has no idea of how intense smells, colours and sounds can be. The word vibrancy has less meaning than it might. This sardine thinking, that everyone in the tin, should look the same and be the same, is a bit silly. There are vast differences in experience amongst our human species.  What is important to a city slicker in not so vital for a person with a large extended family for whom they are the breadwinner. The priorities diverge. The very nature of their conceptual local reality is not the same. The social devoirs are differently ordered.

Without recognising that there is likely to be a difference in outlook, it is pretty difficult to communicate effectively, and assumption is the mother of all cock ups. Just that little thing, considering that someone is coming from a different place, a different world, a different reality, can make a huge difference to the quality of communication. Until one has lived a world, one cannot know the pressures, economic and social, it has. One may read about it, but that is not the same as knowing, though many assume these equate.

If one leaves a world we have the Educating Rita situation, or the Platonic Cave thought experiment. Outside a world, things are different, when you go back into a world, there is difficulty explaining to those who never left the world what lies outside. Moving from one world to another changes you and you can no longer fit so well back into the old world. People in the old-world sense this though there is a desire for conformity to the old ways, the old world. They cannot see and rarely accept that you are different now and seek to apply the old world-rules to you, they want compliance with something that no longer fits. It is a non-sequitur that you are somehow different, and you can be berated for this. People do not like the coterie of their world-version challenged by people leaving it and then having a kind of temerity to come back. There is an assumption that the local reality of world-version pervades universally when it does not.

My function for over a decade was to be an academic, that world academia, has rules, a social hierarchy and a lot of gossip. I am no longer of that world, though it has influenced me. My academic ability has not changed though my status has. Because of this I am likely to be viewed as less able than I am, simply because I am no longer a world-member. My kudos battery is depleted and uncharged. People may even feel sorry for me because I am no longer in the club. It is a bit fucked up, but there you go.

We each of us have our own local reality which will overlap with others in the same “world” as us to an extent. We may be members of a given world. As such we need, at least in public, to subscribe to its mentality, its games and its public relations statements. These local, personal realities, are everywhere. We all have them. I know the parameters of mine fairy well. These do not coincide with what others may think they ought to be. The history does not predict the actuality of the present, my trajectory from the norm has diverged. This is conceptually difficult for people to accept, it does not make sense back in that world. I no longer share the same aspirations, which is a kind of heresy. I have my own local reality and it does not fit into the set of local realities that comprises the other world, the one to which I used to pertain.

There is a problem with worlds and world-versions in that they assume a completeness and that they are encompassing. The boundaries to world are not transparent and are perceptually adiabatic. Nothing can flow in or out of the world. World-versions can become myopic and insular. They can be defended with arms. And when world-versions or cultures interact there can be war. These world membranes need not be so concrete. Today there is at least a wider theoretical understanding of other cultures; arts and the cinema can provide some fleeting insights. Few have lived them. Anyone who has made a transition between worlds knows that there is some discomfort along the way. What one once held to be true, is no longer inviolate. New experience alters one. One hasn’t transitioned into the new world entirely yet and there is a middle ground where nothing seems to work all that well.

I have made a few illustrations of worlds, world-versions and local realities. It can be helpful to at least consider that the “reality” to which we adhere is imperfect. It is a starter for ten in trying to understand that living in sardine mind is not broad nor inclusive. There is a whole bunch of stuff that we do not know, though we may profess otherwise. I am of course talking a little about humility as opposed to an arrogant assumed omniscience.

What is so wrong with admitting that there are many things in life that we do not yet know or understand fully?