What does one make of stones?

Well? What does one make of them? Because at first one may look at a stone and think, well, tis’ just a stone, and surely because it is just a stone, that would leave it as such… a stone.

But then, another man or woman would pass by and say quite quickly, well, tis’ not just a stone! Is a weapon, look, and they would take the stone and feign an attack on the foolish man or woman who simply thought was just a stone.
And such an event of course would have a profound impact on a person, so much so that in the following days they would take to thinking tirelessly of this stone and of what it could be.

Perhaps a stone is a stone, but it also a weapon, and if also a weapon, then perhaps a toy! And this man or woman would then proceed to find the nearest child and engage in a game of catch with them, and given the rock was of the proper size, would end up having a jolly good time.

Amazed by the ingenuity of such a discovery, that a stone could be a stone, a weapon, and a toy, this man or woman would of course be compelled to go even further… perhaps a rock could also then be employed as a digging tool! And this same man or woman would of course take to using a larger sized rock to move the dirt upon the ground with relative success, enough again to be compelled into believing that this stone was now a stone, a weapon, and toy, and a shovel.
And the list would continue, each day a new discovery of the old… stone, weapon, toy, shovel, fire ring, jewelry, massage apparatus, weight, bowling ball, housing material, anchor, grinder, fake muscles, shade, and more… all from a stone?

And one day this man or woman would ask of his spouse or children, to please grab the nail clipper, for he or she desired to cut his or her nails, but of course nail clippers had not been invented yet, and no man or woman had a desire to cut their nails, and so the spouse and children would look around in bewilderment, unsure of what it was that the was that he or she desired…
And the first argument would erupt. For how could he or she have been wed to a spouse or have children so blind? So as to not see with clarity the nail clipper’s laying right there on the table… the stone.

And the spouse and children would sigh a sigh of relief. Of course, those were nail clippers… they certainly could be used to trim nails and though neither the spouse nor children did so, it was perfectly reasonable for someone to clip their nails, and so they would bring the stone… the nail clipper over.

And for the next few days everything was fine, and the family tolerated the man or woman’s use of nail clippers though they still saw the stone as a stone, but did not fuss when he or she asked for the nail clippers instead of the stone. That is, of course, until one day, this man or woman said to the family that he or she was going to kill themselves.

The family, shocked into terror, ran to this man or woman and held him or her dearly, so as to give reassurance, and of course ask for why he or she would ever want to do such a thing? And the man or woman would scratch his or her head, for how was it that he or she could have a family who is so naive as to believe that he or she was going to actually kill themselves? It was just an expression, for his or her nails were getting much too long and he or she desired to clip them again.

But this time the family would scratch their heads too, for what had come about this person, and what had led them to these sorts of… expressions? And upon further questioning the man or woman would explain his or her whole story, about the day he or she saw the stone and how another person came and used it as a weapon.

And how they began thinking of the stone, until, tired of thinking of the stone and began to think of life itself! And upon turning focus, it was like a grand discovery had been made, and he or she finally understood the foundation of life: for if the stone could be anything he or she wanted it to be, so it must follow that he or she could also be anything that he or she wanted to be.

Death was just a myth! For if I chose to be living, then I should be living. And if I chose to be dead, so I shall be dead. If I chose to be kind, so then I am kind. If I chose to be evil, so then I am evil. It matters not, so long as I have thought it!

The spouse and children scratched their heads once more, but owing to the certainty that he or she spoke to, they were inclined to believe him or her, and saw in this some sort of holy power. They too began to choose what was truthful to themselves and what was not (though they never bargained to test death, they still firmly believed that it was true that they could at once decide to be living or dead, and plus, who would ever choose death over living?), and it was in this fashion that man came to today.


If every kid grew up wanting to make the world a better place, the world would be a better place.

But what’s odd to me is that when I listen to these kids, I often hear that they do say this.

How strange that one would desire such a noble goal, but then fail to carry it out.

But then, if I listen closer, I find a clue as to why that is the case.

I hear them spill their desires, their goals and dreams of love and unity, helping the suffering, mending old souls… and always a caveat at the end, “I just have to figure out how.”

But let’s say this child, then ages and comes to grow, still holding this desire, ever-lasting in their soul… but as time goes on and work and marriage take their toll, well, it’s easy to see how this goal may fall just shy of being reached and purposeful.

But then as old-age starts to grow, a bitter resentment inside will grow… and these same kids who are now parents, have left their dreams of helping fall too cold…

And one day their child will share with them a pure desire, a big dream that one day the world will be better, and this parent will scold and shout and say, “You are foolish to think this, as I used to be the same way.”

And so it seems that we’ve reached today, where dreams of helping have fallen to the wayside… replaced with corporation, promotions, and wages, a big dollar sign to help calm our failing patience.

God help the family and the child, for each and all the same desire, but time and work has spoiled away… the help that each may have gave.

Start today! Though you do not know the path, start today! Though you do not know the way. Stumble and fall! Trip along the frozen grass, but let not your focus slip away.

For we each have but one chance to live as we may, and perhaps we’ve all forgotten that once we all had noble desires.

Past Understanding

So we’ve talked about the Paradox of Understanding: how understanding (really uncertainty mitigation) plays into identity formation, and now we need a tool that can help us with this conundrum.

As review, the principle of understanding is that as soon as we explain (and thus make something understandable to ourselves and others), we’ve lost a true understanding of what we’ve just explained. But, as humans, we need to explain things, otherwise we end up dealing with a painful infinity of uncertainty, which is painful, as human actions are bound to a single digit: 1.

To be uncertain is to be forced into inaction, and so we mitigate this by providing a false certainty. But perhaps there is a way to retain understanding while still mitigating uncertainty? Faith. Yes, Faith.

I realize the concept of faith has a lot of religious connotations to blind belief, there’s some Truth there, but ultimately not what I’m going for. Faith is going to be a mental tool we use to mitigate uncertainty when it’s called for. Also, Faith shouldn’t be confused with male #3 in the identity formation post: “signs from God/meaning/fate” is also not the proper definition of Faith we’ll be using.

Here’s the definition — Faith: to acknowledge the thing you cannot see as existing will be seen as existing after the fact. In other words, it’s when you place a bet that something is true, but this cannot be proved until it is proven, the proof isn’t given until after the fact. This implies that we must act as if something were true.

To use a religious example: We can’t know if God exists until after we die, so we must assume that he exists currently. That’s the religious mentality, I don’t necessarily agree with that statement itself, but that concept can be taken and applied to other non-religious matters. So let’s do that.

Example 1:

My girlfriend disappeared, and I don’t know why… what do I do? There are a few considerations we should make before jumping to faith, we may want to make sure she wasn’t kidnapped, that there wasn’t anything we did that could have spurred this, and should attempt to narrow it to a conclusion: I don’t know why she has disappeared, but I know she’ll be back. That is Faith.

It’s Faith precisely because I have no reason or proof that she will be back, it doesn’t make logical sense to jump to a conclusion (she’ll be back) if the unknown (why she disappeared) could roughly amount to infinity. But I make this jump to mitigate uncertainty (she’ll be back) while retaining the truth (I don’t know why she’s gone).

I’m making a wager… saying despite the unknowns, she will be back, and when she is back, I will have my proof that she is back… because she’s back. Given, she may not be back, I could be wrong, but then I decided to use faith in this scenario instead of a different explanation… that’s a reflection of my ability to correctly understand the appropriate response (in relation to whatever) to different situations.

Example 2:

Faith becomes especially important in terms of making long-term decisions that at first will negatively affect yourself, and only in time pay off. Looks like this:


To get something of value (subjective), there needs to be effort (work) to get it. If there’s no faith, then it’s very likely a person won’t put in the effort to get past the negative bump.


Working out is a good example because there’s established research that proves exercise is beneficial, but before that research existed, how could anyone know for certain that exercise was beneficial? Exercise in the immediate short-term can be seen as detrimental, as it tires the body and creates exhaustion, but ultimately we see it as a long-term beneficial activity because we have science guiding us (and perhaps intuition).

No faith is required in this instance since science has provided a certainty where there was an uncertainty, but science doesn’t cover all domains and can’t always take the place of faith.

Example 3:

Let’s say you want to change yourself or situation. Perhaps you feel depressed, sad, unlovable, or simply want to benefit other people instead of only yourself: regardless of the reason, there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with change.

Infinity to one. To change means to revert back to the infinity state and to rethink what you’re doing. Maybe you’re used to drinking every Saturday night by yourself while playing latin music because you’re stressed, that’s a one. So to change means to take that drinking and replace it with… and only the individual can decide this, but whatever is decided, this is where Faith plays the next integral role.

Regardless of what you’ve decided, you won’t be able to see the results of your change until you’ve changed. Maybe you’ve decided to spend Saturdays with your family instead, great: but how will you know that this will be any better from drinking on Saturdays? In fact, at the start, it will probably be worse. You’ll probably run into some conflicts since you’ve never been there before at Saturday family board-game night, and it will probably feel terribly uncomfortable… uncertain. 

To replace drinking (a certainty) requires a period of intense uncertainty (what am I going to do Saturdays if not drink? And even if I know what else I can do, how will that turn out?) and effort within that uncertainty to reach a future certainty of something unknown (maybe you’ll like what you’ve changed to, maybe it’ll be better, but it totally could be worse).

Given this, the obstacles around change are relatively high. It makes no logical sense to place bets into something that seems completely uncertain in both the middle and end phase: there’s too much risk (uncertainty), so people will tend to stick with the drinking.

But again, this is where Faith comes in. It’s a tool to mitigate uncertainty without providing false certainty, but is dependent on the proper usage of what to have Faith towards. If I stop drinking, what will happen? To alleviate this question I can use Faith, I don’t know what will happen, but it will be better than this. The last statement may not be true, but if I’m really trying to change something, there is a high likelihood that it will be better than this (because this is bad enough that I want to change it), but that requires an upfront investment in effort without knowing that things will be better. I only get proof that it’s true after the fact.

So… have Faith.

Uncertainty of Self

Understanding is very closely tied to uncertainty, and as mentioned in the previous post (see Paradox of Understanding) based on a person’s willingness to confront uncertainty, they will generally come to different explanations for raw experiences, these different explanations then form a solid basis for a person’s character.

The Truth, however, can never be explained because the raw experience itself is the Truth, or oftentimes, we don’t have the raw information to even form the basis for an explanation.

In other words, you can’t mitigate uncertainty with explanations (certainty) without it being a false certainty. There’s a degree of how false the explanation is, varying to different degrees, but in the end, it’s false, but this is still in important process for humans to partake in, it’s very human want to mitigate uncertainty… and that is why we have identities.

One of the difficulties of being human is having the capability to decide what one becomes, identity is not given, it is formed and chosen. But what is identity?

An identity is a constraint on a person’s behavior, it’s a limiter: if I’m a coder, I code and not other things. If I’m a teacher, I teach and not other things. Not to say that a person is as simple as one label and only does one thing, but a set of finite labels (some that activitate in specific scenarios, others that deactivate in other scenarios, and some that apply in all) that translate to behaviors, actions is roughly what an identity is, and it is a central component to living… why?

Take for example a 22 year old male who has never left his room for the entirety of his life, he doesn’t know what society is like (and therefore doesn’t know social rules), doesn’t know what people are like (and therefore doesn’t know interaction rules), and since he’s only been in his room (doing nothing, just eating, sleeping, drinking), he also has very little idea of what to do in the world. As soon as this person enters the real world and leaves his room, his mind is going to be bombarded with million different sources of stimuli, scenarios, interactions with people, and he’ll have to try to understand what he’s supposed to do. Sometimes when he stares at a person, they give him a mean face. Other times when he stares, they give him a smile. What does it all mean?

The idea here is that in any given situation or interaction, this person has an infinite number of possibilities for ways to act, and this infinity creates a lot of uncertainty within him. Feeling uncertainty is very unpleasant, and seeing other people being uncertain (because of your own inability to explain other’s behaviors (which is obviously also worsened by higher levels of erratic behaviors)) is very unnerving.

Decreasing unpredictability in ourselves and others is what a solid identity should do then… but oftentimes it happens that identities don’t form correctly from youth to adulthood. What happens then?

Let’s take a relatively average 18 year old girl and throw her on Tinder. Being 18, she’s still very much trying to “find herself”, nothing wrong there, god speed, but please note; she’s average looking.

So this girl lands in Dick Ocean (Tinder) and all of a sudden gets matches… lots and lots of matches… attention, so much more attention than she’s ever had in high school (because she’s just average…) and that attention feels good.

Let’s fast forward a few years, there is only a binary here… she’s either still on Tinder (this includes periodically leaving it and coming back to it), or she’s left it. If she’s left it, good, she’s probably taking a more self-reflective approach and choosing an identity that isn’t dependent on male validation. Given all the different identities in the world, a dependency on anyone else doing or saying anything is not an identity, it’s a prolonging of not choosing an identity and therefore a crutch in being unable to decide for oneself what is self.

Why is that the case? Because if we go back to our definition of identity, its purpose, its goal, is to take an infinite number of possible actions a person can take and reduce it down to a finite set and eventually a single action or way of behaving at a specific time and specific scenario. Over the course of a person’s life, then in similar scenarios we should be able to predict that this person will act roughly in the same manner.

This is not the case for validation seeking because validation seeking is not a consistent action. To get validation from different people inherently means that the behaviors of the person has to change in order to “meet the demands” of validation that the appropriate person will give. In other words, this person is unpredictable… and identity is again, meant to give yourself and others predictability, ergo: validation seeking = no identity.

But unfortunately, and is often the case now, this girl will probably end up staying on Tinder… at the age of 18 it’s hard to reason differently than this: My parents make me feel like shit, but they’re supposed to be good people… and these dicks make me feel good, but people tell me they aren’t great… but if they make me feel good, they can’t be so bad afterall…

The unfortunate end is that society is filled with people that have no basis for an identity, are chaos, and in essence can’t exist without someone else telling them they exist.

Next Post: Past Understanding

Paradox of Understanding

Core Principle: All things are not understandable until we explain them, as soon as we explain, we don’t understand it.

A core part of a human’s life is in explaining their own life to themselves. A person’s life can be divided into two separate phenomena then:

1. What they experience (raw experience)
2. How they explain what they have experienced (explanation)

In general terms, this is called constructing a story. A start, middle, and end are joined in order to create a whole that when pieced together derive a greater meaning than each separate part alone. In other words, people’s lives can be categorized in large part by the respective stories that they tell themselves (their own explanation of their experiences).

Where do these explanations come from?

1. Cultural and biological influences (things we can’t change)
2. The depth of explanation we’re satisfied with (something we can change)

#2 is closely linked to curiosity, but is not necessarily the case. Regardless of how it comes about, I think it’s fair to say that a person chooses to be satisfied with certain answers, and if they are unsatisfied, to “dig for the Truth.”

Given 6 different males, each with a girlfriend.
One day each girlfriend disappears.
Each does various things to contact her, but there are no responses.
So… each person now has to cope with uncertainty:

Explanations to cope:
Male #1: She probably just went on vacation without telling me and doesn’t have signal now.
Male #2: She probably hates me and is doing this to get back at me in some way.
Male #3: This must be a sign from God/Fate/Karma/ something outside of my control and understanding that I must accept.
Male #4: Thank God, I can take a break from that terrible woman now.
Male #5: Did I do something wrong?
Male #6: What happened?

Male #1 uses a plausible concrete reality to cope.
Male #2 uses a reflective self-shaming to cope.
Male #3 uses a form of religious or spiritual energy (otherworldly) power to cope.
Male #4 uses a projection to cope.
Male #5 declines coping yet, and will consider Truth-seeking with his question.
Male #6 declines coping, and considers the information he has insufficient to declare an explanation.

For Males #1-#4, their job is done. They’ve explained the situation sufficiently for themselves and can in some way move on for the time being.

For Males #5-#6, they will cope with more uncertainty in order to “seek the Truth.”

“Seek the Truth” in quotes because there is no actual truth. If we go back to our first principle at the top, we understand that any explanation is inherently a partial, we don’t understand the entirety (and never will), but instead we’re engaging in a relative “depth of explanation” that that person will be satisfied with.

Even if the girlfriend came back and gave a reason as to why she left, the Truth is still unknown. Why? Because she’s also explaining the raw experience to herself and then explaining it to you. So if your explanations are partial Truths, then how will her telling you her explanation (a partial Truth) be a whole Truth?

The Truth is irrelevant in these cases, as our main focal point is the story. The depth of explanation then is what matters as that forms the building block for a different story based on the same raw experience (my girlfriend disappeared). This story then forms the building blocks of character.

How does story inform character? Take for example, Male #3 vs Male #5:

Male #3 will continually go through life using that same explanation where applicable; in other words, he will think nothing of regret and tend to accept all things as all things are explained as meant to be (otherworldly explanation). He’ll be delusional in some ways (as not all things are meant to be), but also justifiably happy (since he is capable of acceptance), but not more. When everything is “pre-fated”, he doesn’t hold much responsibility for his life, “things just happen” and because of this, he tends to travel light, in heart and spirit. All and all you can say this person will end their life not terribly reflective, but not terribly off from a decent life either. There is a possibility that the explanation will not hold in a more extreme case (take for example, a family member being murdered), then this may be grounds for an intense pain to arise from being unable to use the same explanation to this raw experience.

In comparison, Male #5 will take a different life pathing, one more closely centered on self-reflection and a “chipping away at oneself”: like a sculpture being refined through constant small chippings and a scrutinizing eye. This male takes a desire in controlling things and is at best knowledgeable of the areas in which he can and cannot correct (and therefore control), and at worst, lost to himself, terribly self-critcizing and never knowing the “proper” way to do things. The story constructed here amounts to an intense self-redemption (and therefore joy) at the culminating moments of his life if the “wrong” in his actions is redeemed with “right” in later actions. However, there also stands that chance that this male will not be able to take a corrective action later on, and therefore live with a gnawing sense of pain at the certainty of an unfulfilled resolution (What did I do wrong? –and not having the answer, or having the answer and not being able to redeem it).

In essence, how you choose to explain your life becomes your life. Not because the explanation itself is Truth, but because it was decided that this explanation was going to be your Truth. The raw experience itself is the closest point of Truth, but there is no understanding available there as there can be no explanation for a raw experience other than “this is the case.” The depth of explanation you choose to be satisfied with will in large part dictate the story, and it is also here that a person’s tolerance to uncertainty plays a role. How willing are you to explain things in a different way that also makes sense? Then based on your explanation, you can see which character you tend towards.

See Part 2: Uncertainty of Self

For My Dad

By this time in my life, I’d hoped to have overcome enough struggles to have found some Truth. And I have, but if there’s anything I know, is that man deceives himself.

My Dad called me yesterday. He’d just gotten home from China recently and was excited to see me; I wasn’t there.

I’d left to LA in pursuit of. And in my pursuing it meant that I had to leave home earlier than he expected, earlier than I expected. Regardless, I left, he came home, I wasn’t there, he called, and we agreed that he would come up to LA for my birthday.

He called me last night and said he would be in LA tomorrow night. I’d lost track of time over the weekend, it hadn’t realized tomorrow was my birthday. I checked my phone –close enough, two days before my birthday.

I questioned if he was staying for the weekend. And he continually affirmed that we were just getting dinner. Just getting dinner?

A pang of guilt washed over me, and I thought of myself. I didn’t want my Father to drive all the way from NorCal to SoCal just to see me for one dinner.

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