Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Waking Up a Little More

Originally posted on March 30, 2012

I’ve been waking up to ways I’ve been asleep or veiled in ignorance or self-deception, and one of the things I’ve woken up to is the idea that lots of other people are as caught up in illusions as I’ve been.  Everyone has a somewhat different combination of thousands of illusions and self-deceptions. Digging out is a sisyphean task—that word alluding to the punishment of the character of Sisyphus in Greek Mythology—a never- ending task.

In my case, I was more uncertain about life, I sensed and often knew what I didn’t absolutely know. I assumed, naturally, that others had the good sense to do this, also. It didn’t occur to me that this is itself a mark of intelligence. The more I thought about it, the more it was clear that one could never know, because
   – new instruments were exposing new facets of the universe all the time
   – every science and art were advancing their frontiers all the time
   – the world was becoming more religiously, politically, and economically complex
   – new facets of illusion and self-deception were being exposed continuously

Anyway, as I reflect on the follies of my life, I think I was inclined to accept people’s assertion that they knew what was what. It never occurred to me (until the 7th decade of my life!) that confidence could be paired with stupidity, and indeed, one of the marks of stupidity was over-confidence. Nor is this mentioned in the psychiatric literature.

So now I’m a bit more circumspect. Behind the mask of confidence, people can be more brittle, easily disoriented, feeling insufficiently acknowledged and understood, and mildly annoyed because of the difficulties and injustices in life. I consider this more consciously—though it’s hard to break habits of just entering a scene with an almost naive trusting that people are jolly and want to be playful—and that they’ll “get” the jokes I make. Wrong.

More, my maturation in recognizing that many are more limited in their consciousness than they seem or pretend, and this in turn leads me to redouble my life-work of digging out, critiquing the thousands of little knots and pickles, the cultural and individual forms of self-deception, and other ways that inhibit our fullest potential for flourishing.

One Response to “Waking Up a Little More”

  • Matthew says:

    I’m coming to the end of my 2nd decade and now even more so consider myself to be ‘waking up to ways I’ve been asleep or veiled in ignorance or self-deception’. It appears sometimes (most of the time) as if I alone am engaged in this sisyphean task. But perhaps it is more common an ecscavation than I imagined.

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