I tried to change. Tried to quit cussin, smoking, laughing at the wrong jokes, thinking impure thoughts. I tried.
Then as will happen, something that satisfied me as the truth dawned on me.
Changing doesn’t make you better. None of us know our ultimate score, if there is one. You don’t quit smoking and win two points. You quit smoking and if the score changes, if you are better or worse in the good and evil arena, you won’t know until you slip the surly bonds, as a man said. Your lungs feel healthier, but you’re not a better human being.
We really don’t agree on what a good human being is. (And don’t try to use morality to define good. It’s like using bricks to describe glass.)
Bricks to describe glass? Am I shitting you?
No. Morality is a power play used by a group to program a behavior preference into an individual.
Before you saddle up to defend your code, I ask you, friend, to consider the woman who had a clitorectomy because the caveman leading her people said their code required it.
Did I really mean to imply some moral codes are primitive?
No, I wanted it to be plain.
There is a good, but morality doesn’t reliably point you to it, and that’s why every single individual — I insist! — gets a line-item veto on whatever horseshit happens to be embedded in the moral code he or she learned as a kid.
If you grew up being taught that some stupid cruelty was just how we do things, it’s on you to call that out in yourself, and reject it from the way you do things.
(Continues below this cool video of a mushroom, which is not relevant, except that it is a mushroom just doing its thing, being authentic.)
Changing doesn’t make you better. It makes you different, and if you’re already a half decent person who gives a shit about a couple things, don’t mess them up while you’re trying to be perfect somewhere else in your life.
The only perfection a regular human being can attain is to be authentic.
Yes, this perfection is utterly subjective, but that is its merit.
We have no real merit but what we are, standing naked. What we have done, how we have done it. Who we actually are.
Anything else is a lie.
Strive, if that’s who you are. Be a lazy ass if that’s who you are. Trust me. You look good doon it.
Socrates was honest when he said he didn’t know anything. He was happy to die for authenticity, rather than grasping after the popular truth, told in the popular lexicon of the day. (That’s all any politics is.)
Thomas More — the dude who wrote Utopia — died because he couldn’t get his mind around King Henry VIII demanding a place in an imaginary hierarchy between him and deity — and all Henry was really after was a piece of ass, and More knew it.
My point with the history?
Giving the world the authentic you is the best, most honest, most noble thing you can do. The irony you miss will be instructive to others.
If the people who see the authentic you respond with authenticity, give them respect and if you feel it, love. If they show you the wounds as often as the I’m Just Ducky smile, you have a friend.
If they force you to drink hemlock or chop your head off, hey. As Baer would say, none of this shit’s real, anyway.
Nothing’s perfect. You aren’t. But if you are authentic, that’s as perfect as a human being can get, and it’s the only foundation for change that has a chance.
Be authentic, my friends, and if that isn’t what the people around you need, if they feed you bullshit, give them an authentic hug, or a courteous fuck off, and enjoy your day.
10 responses to “Authenticity”
I enjoyed your reflection. It made me think considering that I quit smoking in March of 2021. I didn’t really do it to be better though. I did it as a swap for things I like. I liked to smoke. I especially liked to smoke with a cup of coffee, a beer or a nice whiskey. I like to eat too. I was faced with a choice. I needed some implants to have teeth on my upper left quadrant. Mine had been knocked out in an accident…well not an accident but more of a struggle that I didn’t anticipate. Anyway I’m veering off from my point. I could only chew on my right side and that was beginning to bother me as well as my dentist. She said if I continued that way that my right side would get weakened. She also said that she could put implants in my left side and build a very strong bridge of false teeth that would always stay in but…..only if I quit smoking so that it would heal right. I thought about it for a while and decided that I liked to eat well more than smoke so I quit the next day. It was hard and I have been tempted once in a while to have a smoke but so far I have not smoked since. I will say this though. If I have any inkling when my last meal will be then I will have a smoke right after it….along with a good whiskey!
I am 63 years old and a life-long avid reader. I have never had an author’s writings resonate with my soul like those of Clayton Lindemuth. I have strived my entire life to be a “good dude”. Maybe Clayton will help me move a few inches closer to not being a total asshole.
Bring raised in a small rural North Carolina town where the worst thing that you could call someone was “uppity”, reading Clayton’s views on authenticity really struck a chord within me.
It’s like saying, “She’s uppity ?…Oh my God, does her momma know?…She must be so embarrassed….How did that happen?…She came from such a good family.”
I’ve always believed that feeling a certain way about a certain topic doesn’t make you right or wrong. Hell, it doesn’t even make you different. It’s just the way you process things with no right or wrong attached to it.
It’s probably a bit hypocritical to say this, but reading Clayton’s thoughts does proved affirmation that we may be on to something.
I’m not a sinner that’s been saved….just an another asshole trying to be less of one.
Something to ponder for sure.
Excellent words, Clayton. I find myself in a struggle to stay kind to people these days, because a lot of them don’t deserve it. I strive to be a better person when I am confronted with stupidity, but people do make it hard. The so-called morality that is based on stupidity and the struggle for control in this crazy world that is being pushed on us lately also makes it hard for a sensible person to stay calm. I need to get back to the land and find peace.
I drive for a living and have for the past 25 years. No peace on the road, really, except for the audiobooks I listen to my entire shift every day. Right now I’m on my yearly listen to Atlas Shrugged, and your words today remind me of Galt’s, D’Anconia’s and Danneskjold’s words. Sensible words that get a person called all kinds of bad names nowadays. I also listen to Victor Davis Hanson, Jordan B Peterson, George Orwell (a lot of his books get a yearly listen from me), and other sensible speakers whose voices are lost in the insanity today.
Peace in the forest is in my near future, and hopefully I’ll find a mushroom on a tree beyond the blackberry bushes like you did.
Good read;,as usual, with your work. I love your writing, Clayton, and I try to share your books with people that I think would appreciate them. Not the ladies at Bible study, though……
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