Instead of Living Strong, How about Liiving United?

“The intense need to get to the top and then stay on the top seems very lonely.”

Graffiti Wall in Bisbee Arizona

Blue is not blue, black is not black, yellow no longer lives strong, and Fifty Shades of Grey is a crass and poorly-written novel that somehow found its way at the tippy top of the NY Times Best Seller list. And books like The Secret, well, they have twisted our minds so perversely that now we believe that our secrets will not make us sick, instead the truths we hide away will somehow give us super powers. Shazam! Our well-crafted guise, our posturing, or our little white-rationalized lies, otherwise known as our deceptive convictions, will take us to that very special place, a place where if we click our heels together and say three times out loud, “there is no place like home, there is no place like home, there is no place like home,” or better, if we say three times out loud, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” our buried secrets, our self-deceptions, our bald-faced lies, small town or big world, will ensure that our kids get straight As, medal in their sport [come on, I had to list this one. I live in an Olympian-Ski town], will always be the other kids’ fault, not get us kicked out of our church, get us invited to the right party, get us invited into the best book club, damn it, and if we dream big, our giant exaggerations will get us on, say, Oprah, land us our very own Reality Television Show, or at the very least, get us on Babbles Top 100 Blog list! Hollah! People, we can win the Tour De France or be President, the President of the United States! We are not liars. We are rephrasers of the truth.

Seriously, shame on anyone who calls us out. If someone ever exposes our truth we will not stop until they disappear. When questioned about an exposed truth, we will bully, deny, scream, and kick very, very hard. We will call the truth exposer crazy, but not fat, never fat. We will tell their friends and our friends they are crazy. We will get all of our friends to call them crazy. We will shame them, make a giant pariah out them, and we will pour a little gasoline all over them. Then we will walk right up to them, look them straight in the eye, because that’s what people who tell the truth do, match lit then tossed, and watch them burn. As they burn we will scream, “See. See how they hurt me! See!” As they burn, we will stand strong, stand high and stand proclaiming our truth! We will do anything to stay on top!

Is this really our world?

When you think about it, this false life our world begs us to play in is actually propelling us back into a creepy and backward-thinking parallel universe, a heavily-draped-and-veneered-1950’s-June-Cleaver-lovely-dinner-on-the-table-at-5-he-does-not-beat-me-if-the-bruises-do-not-show-and-the-photo-I-display-online-is-really-how-I-look fantasy world where things like competitive Facebook status updates, cleverly crafted Instagram shots, and all your Twitter followers only serve to perpetuate. You want us to know that in spite of your low blood sugar (severe clinical depression or bipolar disorder), your three-week-work-related-I-will-not-be-able-to-respond-to-any-calls-texts-or-emails training sessions [nudge nudge wink wink, your secret is safe here (REHAB)], your healthy eating habits, hey, you are even a RAW Foodie (Obsessive exercise, calorie counting & starvation), your Irritable Bowl Syndrome (Cocaine or Bulimia), your super awesome wardrobe (overwhelming debt or maybe a simple shopping addiction), your happy marriage (then why do you always take separate vacations, always), your kids who never do anything wrong (because you are always too drunk to notice), well, that you are much happier, richer, more successful, Christ loves you more, your teeth are whiter, your kids are smarter, and you are just happier than the rest of us, damn it! I do not blame you. It is this crazy world we live in. You are simply attached to the Matrix via that big giant plug shoved into the back of your skull like the rest of us.

Because Oprah talked to Lance the other day, I keep asking, what happened to the Oprah of yesterday, a time where she interviewed us common folk and interviewed us common folk with reckless abandon while we shared our truths; identical twins openly and proudly sleeping with fraternal twins while one was a cross dresser, the other gay, all the while fighting over paternity? And then I ask, “what happened to yesterday altogether, a day where things did not seem so damn competitive, litigation-based or fearful; a time where people were good enough simply because they lived the truth?” Ok, maybe that was an imaginary time, because when I think about my past, I technically know that before now I was young and if you think about it, young people tend to be honest, not jaded and open. My past was not daisy-filled. I just thought it was, and I am glad I did. Then I started to grow up and quickly learned that my what-you-see-is-what-you-get perspective had no place in this world. “You are too honest and too direct,” is what I was told. “Keep your mouth shut!” I always thought it was me.

From where I sit now and it is really from where I lie, because I am tucked away here in my bed, it seems that even Oprah has been affected. James Frey may or may not have been the beginning with his Million Little Pieces SNAFU, and who cares if he lied. James is living the dream, writing bestsellers, making movies, making lots of cash, and in truth, his big lie has been a small price to pay. James Frey, Oprah and up until now, Lance Armstrong, were the types of people we have been taught we should aspire to be.

Call me crazy. Wait. You already have [wink wink], but I want to aspire to the truth. I want to be ok saying how I feel. I want my boys to feel good, even though they are not on the ski team. It is so weird because I know I have been blessed. I know I live in a lovely house, which is located in a lovely town, yet even my boys feel the tug of being less than? “Mom, why isn’t our house as big as so and so’s?” What the what? Why can’t we just be ok? Why can’t being a good cyclist be good enough…starters, just for starters?

Somehow I fear that slowly, but surely our Little-Engine-that-Could-you-can-have-it-all world with all of its lies, cruelty and competition is turning into a Post Apocalyptic Dystopian World I have read about and fear, a more, every-man-for-himself-literally-to-the-death Cormac-McCarthy’s-The-Road kind of world then a Stephanie-Meyers-(The Twilight Lady’s)-latest-incarnation-The-Host world, which really with its sparkles and paranormal teen romance wouldn’t be all bad, would it? I mean, come on, what’s a little sparkly-alien-body-possession really going to do to you…Oh wait! It already has done something to us and that is the point, isn’t it?

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15 thoughts on “Instead of Living Strong, How about Liiving United?

  1. I understand what you’re saying, people need to be more objective with themselves. For example, I’m extremely lazy, I have too strong opinions for my own good, and my tendency to tell the truth (at least, truth as I perceive it) has put me into trouble many times. I’m not angry when people pointing out these faults publicly, but I have seen many times that they accuse me of things that I’m definitely not. Only then I do get angry. I’m not afraid of truth, I don’t fight against it. I’m afraid of lies passed as truths from people who have an agenda, or they don’t want the truth be told.

    Regarding Armstrong, in my eyes, he was a weakling, who wanted success and money, via getting very dangerous drugs. At least these drugs gave him something back, in contrast to regular junkies. However, he’s still weak in my eyes. NOT because “he lied to us” (he’s not an elected official, so he’s free to lie in my opinion, if he can get away with it and if he has no conscience), but because he put money & glory above his own health. Having being very sick for 10 years, I value health more than anything else.

    His public admission probably earned him a few million dollars. Now, there’s no way he can make more money via ads to pay his lawyers. And he knew that he couldn’t win any case against him anyway. So accepting a TV show’s money offer in exchange for public humiliation, was a good financial move for him. Although not outlandish, it’s difficult to believe that someone who was cheating for 15+ years, and who denied allegations over and again, had a change of heart and wanted the public’s forgiveness. Because the public opinion is always a judge and an executioner, never a cohesive forgiving entity.

    Finally, regarding the dystopian world we’re heading to, we’re already there. That’s the part that Western people haven’t realized yet. From the moment that there’s a law that requires you to get a license to have chickens on your backyard, or fines you if your front yard has vegetables in it instead of useless, fruit-less plants, then we’re already living in a dystopia. When there’s a mismatch with our relationship with the State, that’s just a mirror of our mismatch in our personal relationships (each elected government is always a mirror of its society, and vice-versa, which is why I didn’t feel bad for Greece).

    I found that the only way to form meaningful relationships among us, is to not keep as secret personal information from anyone around us. I have found that liberating. This is why you have seen me write about how many bowel movements I had in a day when I was sick, describing intimate moments with my husband, my thoughts on having a child or not before it’s too late, and all sorts of other such info. The truth is, I don’t have any personal information that I have withheld from my friends offline or online. I have nothing to keep as a secret, as I have no reason to. My only secrets are other people’s secrets, that I have to keep out of respect for them, but I don’t have personal ones. This strategy has occasionally put me into trouble, but it has also liberated me. Among peers (it’s a different thing regarding the State), I don’t believe in strict privacy rules. It’s this “privacy” thing that has cut off most of our true relations among us. Privacy is nothing but secrets, and protecting secrets has its toll in the long run. A community is not a community if its members are mentally isolated from each other.

    Two years ago, an uncle of mine died of cancer. Their family was always very secretive, we knew nothing of what was going on with these guys at their home. Everyone learned that the guy had cancer after he “suddenly” died (even if he was sick for many months before it). How is this any helpful for the small village community they lived in, or for them? It’s not. The people who cared for them, felt like outcasts in the whole thing, like strangers. The result: further isolation and bad feelings towards them.

    So my solution always is: don’t have secrets from your peers. Be true, and blurb personal things to break the ice, even if this shocks them in the beginning. Eventually, they’ll know that they can only trust you compared to someone supposedly closer to them, but who know nothing about.

  2. Eugenia, You said a lot. I would never delete your words. Life is better with all of our perspectives. And the bonus here, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Thanks for weighing in.

  3. I would consider my hubby and I to be very honest people. I’ve been told that I’m courageous for sharing my journey through breast cancer on a CaringBridge site, but that is me: I’m open and honest. People think going to a chemo appt is something dramatic (it isn’t), so I want to share & teach, as well as document this experience for myself. I can only do that by being truthful.

    And thanks for giving me another rationale for not being on Facebook: I don’t need that added competition and drama in my life.

    This whole Lance thing has given us opportunities to remind our nearly-teen that a lie leads to other lies and then you are trapped in a web of lies. Thank goodness he’s been an honest kid so far. I watched a bit of the Lance interview and could only think to myself: He’s a father, for crying out loud. How does he live with himself??

  4. Excellent post – enjoyed reading your thoughts – in my book honesty and integrity can never be overrated.

  5. Andrea,

    Thank you for your words. I think of you often and think of the world you are facing. I love your what-you-see-is-what-you-get perspective. I love that it really is what it is for you. I love that in a few short words that you have totally demystified chemo. I love that you are truthful!

    The whole Lance Armstrong thing is such a teaching opportunity for our kids, right? So glad you pointed that out. I kept thinking the same thing, “He is a father!”

    You are good, Andrea! Thank you for always weighing in. You continue to be in my thoughts, prayers and crazy chants. xxoo

  6. I deleted facebook and all my tweets until yesterday. So I’m not part of the subtext stuff. Plus I guess my brain, I miss subtext anyway. My husband has to explain jokes in moves. But I think that makes things easier for me in groups, because so much goes over my head, thankfully. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be part of all that. I think it would hurt to know people were talking about me that way, though. I try to stay home a lot and not talk to many people, perhaps that’s partly why, and I don’t share things with others that would hurt them. (meaning I don’t share gossip. that’s mean.)

    So anyway. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t relate to that community, so.

  7. Indeed, life is not kind to the truth-telling non-self-promoter. It’s accepted that such a person is a nay-sayer, party-pooper, persona non grata.
    The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, but hey I’m fine with that. It’s approaching winter, so no on really has to say anything anyway…
    (I seethe.)

    But for you? Nothin’ but love.

  8. Summer, I love your honesty and I learn from it. Are you still back on Facebook and Twitter? I think it is nice to take a break from the subtext stuff. Your husband is so sweet to fill in the gaps. I like that you are who you are and I think it is refreshing that you do not relate. xo

  9. Tammy, I have been waiting for more. I have been waiting for your swears. 🙂 I feel your love and would love to hear your seethings. They are most welcome here.

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