Honesty is a curious facet of human nature. Being honest with ourselves is possibly one of the hardest steps into adulthood we make. Some people never manage to get to the point in their lives where they can objectively look at their goals, behaviors, social interactions and expectations. Some people learn this skill from a very early age. For me, learning to know my own limitations and carve out something which I know and feel to be a true representation of who I am, which I can both trust and rely upon was an advancement which only came about fairly recently. Being Honest with yourself can be daunting, brutal and at times a little soul destroying. But the rewards and benefits of not knowingly deceiving oneself far out way the pitfalls.
If I am honest with myself it makes it a lot easier for me to be honest with everybody else. Everybody else’s expectations of me fundamentally hinge on their perceptions of how I interact with my own environment. If I set myself unrealistic goals then, these may not be obvious to me but from an external perspective, not only can I be seen to be setting myself up to fail, but also will cloud others judgment on how I understand my own limitations. But what is it that limits us? Is it money? Ambition? Education? Time? Creative vision? Motivation? Confidence? Willingness to take risk? All of these things are within our control and are things we can either change or learn to manage more effectively.
Money. This is something which is on the minds of many of us at the moment. Times are hard indeed. Jobs are scarce. Prices are rising and especially here in Europe, there is a feeling of impending economic disaster. How honest are the governments, banks and financial institutions actually being with us. So many of us, including myself, are in some level of debt. Cashflow therefore becomes something of great importance and just keeping our heads above water is a struggle for a lot. But in reality, just how bad really is it. We are still addicted to the capitalist idea that consumption is the most desirable statement of our own prosperity. So, decisions have to be made. Do I really need to upgrade my phone? Do I really have to pay my bills this month? Is it necessary to buy those Butt Plugs I have had my eye on or get some custom fitted leather chaps? Most of the stuff we do actually buy feels like a manufactured want instead of a genuine requirement. I feel that I have come out of a phase of buying into what the commercial market wants me to buy and only aspire to get the things that I actually want and need. Frivolous spending habits are indeed an indulgence of the past. Being honest with myself about what I want, need and require to move forward with a lifestyle that suits my current needs has been a very big step for me, but I am seeing it as a evolutionary function: If I don’t evolve my spending habits then financial extinction is going to be the outcome.
Ambition. Just how much can I achieve? Honestly, what, if I really put my mind to it, am I capable of achieving? It is so easy to get embroiled into an elaborate fantasy of what if’s and How it’s going to be’s. I do find it a major task to not get ahead of myself. But how do we moderate this feeling. Without some ambition we would never get anywhere. The trick is breaking down your goals into small and achievable milestones. Have an overall outcome in the back of your mind, the ultimate destination, but from what I have learnt so far, it is the journey and the checkpoints we reach along the way that are the most enjoyable aspects. Being honest about how and when I will reach these checkpoints ensures that I am not setting myself up to fail. So what is my ambition? I have several mini goals, but I am being realistic about their achievability. I want to carve out some semblance of a porn career, I want to develop a fetish clothing brand and I want to write some literature. I hope to be making good progress on all counts by the time I reach 40.
Education. I would like to think that I am somewhat educated, certainly from an academic point of view. As for an education of the greater world, in all honesty I will never stop learning. Life is so multi dimensional and there are so many levels of development. Personal, social, sexual, friendships, philosophical. I feel like a sponge at the moment. I have never felt so receptive and wired to gaining new life experience and educating myself about as many facets of life as possible. The university of life seems a hell of a lot more important to me right now than any academic institution ever has.
Time. This is a finite parameter. Only so many hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a year… my perception of time seems to be altering as my own biological clock ticks on… My perception is that time is running out. In all honesty, I have about 30-35 years left. I have lived out half my life already! Have I wasted the past 36 years? Hell no. Without the culmination of all those experiences I would not be where I am today. I would not have the education, the ambition or the sense of self awareness that has brought to this juncture. Living with HIV does also alter your perceptions of time. It creates an added sense of urgency. It niggles in the back of your mind that time is more precious than it used to once be. But I don’t see time as the enemy. It is an ally to be harnessed and respected. Managing what time I have left has therefore become a priority of great importance. I have so much I want to do and see and experience. Finding the time to fit it all in is a challenge, but managing it with honesty makes the task so much easier.
Creative vision. I certainly have plenty of that. To the point that I feel like I am going a bit nuts at times. I see the world with such a renewed enthusiasm. There are so many opportunities to exploit, adapt and develop my ideas for the benefit of both myself and others. I have never had such a level of clarity. Getting my ideas to become a reality is a challenge though and are embroiled so much with the previous points: Time; Money; Ambition. I know I am a bit of a dreamer, but to harness my innovation into something real would honestly be the most amazing thing I can achieve on a personal level! The key here is believing in myself. If I can believe in my own ideas then others will follow suit.
Motivation. Honestly, I find it hard to push myself. But knowing where I want to be and what I want to achieve has become a great driving force in my life now. Nobody else is going to hand me anything on a silver platter. If I am going to make this work then I need to get off my ass and do it myself! I get lots of support from friends and this is also a great source of motivation. Not that I am doing this for them, but knowing that they want me to succeed is a marvelous incentive.
Confidence. How do we measure this? I know some people who are so confident in their beliefs that they come across as arrogant cocks! I don’t want to be seen as the cocky prick. But I would like to feel confident in myself that the decisions that I make are correct and based on sound judgment. Of course, we can never be 100% confident that what we are doing is the right thing, but I am aware of this, and honest with myself about it.
Willingness to take a risk. I think I have demonstrated this with a little too much fervor over the past several years. I have taken stupid risks and nearly paid for them with my life. But what I have learnt from that risk taking behavior is that I am not happy to toe the line. I feel that personal development and life experience is gained significantly from risk taking. Sometimes you have to blindly leap from one stone to the next. Without these leaps of danger and faith we just stagnate. I am not happy to sit in the same pond, festering with all the same fish and weeds for the rest of my life. I want to see as many ponds and rivers and lakes and oceans as possible and without being willing to jump across the void to those new opportunities I will never achieve this. However I now have an honest objective outlook on how to manage these risks. No point in jumping into a situation that I know is going to leave me utterly out of my depth. So I no longer blindly take risks. I like to be able to see, even if its just a limited perspective, the destination before I go diving headlong into something new.
So being honest with myself is a great feeling of comfort. It is giving me a template to live life in a more constructed way. But furthermore, it enables me to judge just how honest others are being with themselves and ultimately determine how honest they are likely to be with me. We all have our reasons to deceive those around us. Perfect honesty is a kind of illusion. If we laid all of our cards on the table all of the time we would never win any games and would hold no mystery. But the key is to only withhold strategic information which will not be of detriment to both yourself and others. Nobody likes a liar, and in the end they always get caught out in one way or another. But just how economical with the truth should we be in our interactions? At what point does a white lie become a big fat one? This question has me in a quandary. I try and be as honest with all my answers as possible. But sometimes this can lead to a negative outcome. However, is it not better to cause negativity and have a clear conscience than to knowingly deceive to maintain the status quo? From my perspective, I think in general the answer is yes. But there are caviats. My Gran doesn’t know I have HIV, she doesn’t need to know. If she asked me outright, in all honesty, I would lie to her. She is too old to have to deal with the worry and stress. On the same token my Kids do not know either. This is because they are too young to know. Does the guy I am about to fuck know? Most definitely! My obligation to him is different as my status has the potential to directly affect his health. I could lie to him, but in all honesty, I couldn’t live with myself for this kind of deception. I am going to end this entry with a poem I wrote a year ago called Honesty Policy as I feel it is appropriate
I can see the rim
Just out of reach.
I’ve been digging so long now,
The only place left to go
Is deeper down
The sun is setting below the lip
And as the shadows stretch
To match the length of my lies
I momentarily close my eyes
And let the blackness of my mind
Sooth me for a while.
For there is a great peace in not seeing.
Relief of the pain bleeding from the webs of my deceit.
It was not my aim to cause you any pain.
So I played this game, you see:
Playing my cards to our table
Till my hand was left open.
Exposed to my own stack of backed up shit!
Unable to sustain the tapestry of my misdoings:
Woven into a great stained carpet
And i’m running out of furniture to hide the marks.
Running into ruin.
Covers over covers over lovers.
Falsifying fumbles with fantastic tales.
Tall stories told straight from the sphere
Lolling atop a curved and insubstantial spine.
It started small, but I cant stop.
Digging here, sleeping there
Sneaking, creeping and all along
Unbelieving, almost deceiving myself!
I don’t want to do this anymore
But I’m addicted!
Just once more is no bigger crime
Than all those times gone before.
But i’m afflicted!
Constantly tripping over the stumps
And lumps covering up my previous.
I should go down for this.
I should plead guilty.
I should stop digging deeper.
I should, but I wont, until I’m caught.
I can see the rim
Just out of reach.
I’ve been digging so long now
The only place left to go
Is deeper down