I don’t have all the answers.
I am not an enlightened guru who is incapable of getting pissed off or being judgmental. I am not one of those eternally smiling people who “chose to be happy” and poof! became happy. I am not a high-flying neo-Jesus of the Internet screaming “FOLLOW ME TO THE PROMISED LAND, Y’ALL!” (although someone should go be that).
I don’t want you to think I’m any of those things. Yes, I write a blog where I speculate about all sorts of rather heavy subjects — why we’re here, what we’re doing, what we ought to be doing, how we might go about finding peace and satisfaction, etc.
And don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t bother sharing my ideas with all of you if I didn’t think I had worthwhile things to say. I’m passionately interested in philosophy and the human experience. I love being able to dispense my thoughts for the betterment of the readers of this site, the human race, and myself.
I really do think we should all try to open our minds and be kinder to one another. I do think many of our societies’ norms and paradigms are fundamentally f***ed up and need to be challenged.
I Want to Be as Honest as Possible
But sometimes I feel like I’m not being entirely transparent. See, I contain all sorts of ideas, and I write about them confidently, and I believe in them most of the time. But I don’t always live up to them. And sometimes, I don’t even feel like trying to live up to them.
Because as I’m sure many of you understand, it’s hard to grow. It’s hard to be a good person, to be compassionate, to be disciplined, to stay motivated, to do what you love to do. It’s difficult to be one person and to believe that you can make a difference in the world. It’s overwhelming.
It’s damn easy to be complacent, to seek instant gratification, to skate by, to be selfish and apathetic. And I am all of those things, some of the time.
What I write about on this blog often reflects the highest side of me — my ideal self — the side that I reach for when I’m clear-headed, optimistic, and inspired. I understand that a few and perhaps many of you respect what I write and have been influenced by my messages. If that’s the case, that’s unequivocally awesome. I’m so grateful that my words can resonate with you and support you in some way. That is, of course, my aim.
But I guess what I’m trying to say, what I want to make abundantly clear, is this: I am not better than you. I am not different from you. I am not perfect.
I am an eccentric, inconsistent, confused, and somewhat fractured human being who hates getting out of bed and has spontaneous urges to climb trees.
I’m the fool who enjoys having a few (sometimes a few too many) drinks with friends and laughing the night away over inappropriate jokes. I’m the romantic who falls for women far too hard and fast and tends to get his heart smashed to specks. I’m the scatterbrain whose most reliable talent often seems to be his ability to lose his every belonging.
Most recently, I’m a 22-year-old man-kid trying to come to terms with a new life in South Korea, half a world away from my home. And I’m not afraid to admit that it isn’t all cherry blossoms, orgasms, and fairy dust, this moving-to-a-new-country thing.
Yes, much of what has happened to me here has been amazing. The new sights, sounds, smells, people, students, food – truly, much has been grand. But some of it has left me feeling flustered, baffled, incompetent, irritated, and alienated.
I expected difficulties, but I think a part of me had the hubris to believe that I was above the day-to-day frustrations, that I’d cultivated a bulletproof go-with-the-flow disposition, that everything would be like chocolate fountains and Narnia.
Well, I can say now that it certainly is not. But that’s okay. Because if it were, it wouldn’t be reality, but some fantasy world. It wouldn’t be life, and I wouldn’t be my oh-so-human self.
Moving to Korea has forced me to realize once more a few things I thought I knew: that reality will forever defy expectation, that new challenges will always arise, and that personal growth is a never-ending process.
It can be a bit daunting and demoralizing to consider these ideas, but the sooner that we accept them, the sooner we can recognize that we are strong enough to meet the challenges, and that the struggles allow us to appreciate our joys much more thoroughly. The mire is necessary, even though it won’t seem like it when we’re trudging through suckville.
Moving to Asia seems, in some ways, to have accelerated life’s attempts to humble me. I feel more aware than ever that I don’t have all the answers, that I’m far from infallible, that I can’t do everything by myself.
I’ve been compelled to contemplate the future of this blog, in fact. I’ve asked myself, “Should I be publishing my reflections on living and thinking, when I struggle to find balance and consistency in my own life? Should I be describing the flaws I perceive in society, when I’m ignorant of much and will make mistakes?”
These are difficult questions.
But I’ve come to the realization that no man, alive or dead, has had all of the answers or felt entirely in-control, all the time. No artist, philosopher, teacher, inventor, or scientist has ever shared their talents with the world without a heap of errors and missteps.
In short — if we wait until we’re without flaws to begin creating our legacy and impacting the world, we will rot in the soil, never having done a thing worth mentioning.
Magical things have come of this project already, in the form of relationships, conversations, and hopefully, a bit more goodness in the world. I see now that the people who’ve reached out to me about what I’ve written here have been a consistent inspiration in my life — an inspiration to keep moving and to continue trying to be the change, to live my words. For that, I can’t express my gratitude to all of you.
So I will keep writing. I will continue to pour what I have to give into Refine The Mind and into my other writing and art. I will do it because I believe in doing what excites me. I will do it as the fragile and uncertain human being that I am, and hopefully, I will do it more honestly than ever, in a way that makes a difference in the hearts and minds of those who encounter my work.
At the risk of being preachy or trite, I’d suggest that all of you do the same. Be who you are and express yourself — whether that means painting frescos, building rocking chairs, or just being one of those rare people who says what they feel and think. Do it, despite what others may say, despite the mistakes you’ll make.
I’ll do the same. I may not be the next Buddha, Socrates, or Jimi Hendrix, but that’s okay. I can be the potently preposterous self that I was given.
I’m better at being him anyway.
P.S. If this resonated with you, check out the ways to follow what I write. Thanks, humans.
Photo Credit: Bùi Linh Ngân
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jordan Bates
Jordan Bates is the creator of Refine The Mind and an English teacher in Busan, South Korea. He's a tenacious fellow who enjoys longboarding, creative writing, hip-hop music, and the study of literature and philosophy. He's also made it his quest to broaden the minds of others while cultivating more kindness and understanding in the world. Read the full story of Refine The Mind and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.