On Being Human: No One Has All the Answers

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.

 

Honest Light, Honest Shadow

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. 

A Predicament

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.

The Verdict

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


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About Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is a writer and perpetually curious autodidact interested in just about everything. He tweets a lot. He questions all the things. He makes rap songs about Nietzsche and Dragonball Z. He dreams of a more compassionate, cooperative, free global community in which every human being's basic needs are met and in which all sentient beings are respected. Lately, he's primarily interested in how we can prevent humanity from decimating itself and the rest of the biosphere. Befriend him and/or get his latest essays emailed to you sometimes, if you like. Amor fati, humans.


12 Responses to “On Being Human: No One Has All the Answers”

  1. Derick Van Ness

    Jordan,

    I appreciate your honesty and I can relate with your struggle. I help people find and live their Soul Purpose (and even have a book about it), and that can sometimes cause me to feel that I should have all of the answers. However, what I’ve found is helpful is realizing that I don’t need to have all of the answers to help others or myself, I just need to focus on asking the right questions and the answers seem to show up.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and keep up the good work Brother!

    Reply
    • Jordan Bates

      Derick,

      Thank you for the words of encouragement. It certainly makes me feel better to hear from others who have questioned the validity of what they’re doing. Realizing that we don’t need all of the answers, that we will make mistakes, does seem crucial to any type of work that involves intellectual or artistic risk-taking. Your project/mission/vocation to help others discover their purpose sounds very cool. Best of luck to you and take care. Don’t be a stranger, and thanks again for the comment.

      Reply
  2. Taurus Turtle

    What an amazing article. I’ve never said this to another man, but you are a beautifully inspiring person.

    As I began to read the article I started to get a little nervous when you mentioned maybe not continuing with the blog, and I feel the need to tell you that your site continues to help me in a way no other website or book has.
    I reread your articles daily, I have them on my phone and tablet.

    I never get the feeling that you’re a know-it-all or that you think you’re better than anyone. As I’ve said before, the way you word your thoughts and opinions are genuine, which is I why I really dig what you have to say.

    I really am grateful that I found your website and I really hope you continue to post. As I right this I’m trying to figure out how I can use Sigil to combine all of your articles into a pdf or something for my own personal use.

    Reply
    • Jordan Bates

      Taurus Turtle, man, thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I began to tear up a bit while reading it. This is the most heartfelt and powerful message I’ve received about what I write on this blog.

      For people like you, I will keep writing. Just knowing that there’s someone out there who has benefitted that much from what I’ve written makes the effort completely worthwhile to me.

      I’m glad you appreciate my thoughts and don’t find me to be anything more than another human being, doing his best to navigate this labyrinth of life. Your comment about wanting to combine the articles into a .pdf makes me consider more seriously the idea that I should combine a bunch of my favorite articles, write a few more originals ones, and make an eBook to give away or sell for a small amount on the site.

      I’ve been working on an original eBook for a while, but it would be easy enough to make another one using a bunch of the content I’ve already created. Does that sound like a good idea?

      Thanks again for this comment. I wish you all the best.

      Reply
  3. venusbu03

    I just found your website a few days ago (from Tiny Buddha) and am now going through your past articles. So if you get lots of comments from me on old articles, that is why :)

    While I love reading books from the Greats, I occasionally feel that they are an aspirational goal, not something that I can fully relate to (or at least not anytime soon). Perhaps I’m just not that evolved yet. I do love to learn and grow and question how I perceive the world, and the Greats help me do that. But I feel like there is a different kind of beauty in your writing. You seek answers and seek questions just as the Greats do/did, but there is also a commonality between writer and reader that makes me feel like I can relate to you more.

    Personally, I love the “flaws” in humanity, the mistakes, the screw ups, the simplicities, and the common desires to simply be heard, to belong, to not be dismissed. While I love those qualities in other people, I also have trouble accepting those same qualities in myself. Writing from your perspective of being flawed and still trying to figure it all out, speaks louder to me. It’s aspirational, but also personally resonates. It’s a beautiful combination.

    We don’t expect you to have all the answers; we just want a writer that challenges our way of thinking and presents questions that perhaps we haven’t fully contemplated. We want to grow and we are fine if you are growing right along with us. You write amazingly (truly, I can’t believe you’re only 22). I hope you stick with it for as long as you enjoy it.

    –A new faithful reader

    Reply
    • Jordan Bates

      venusbu03,

      Comment on as many articles as you like! Great to hear that so much of the content appeals to you.

      I’m really, really flattered by your comment about the accessibility of my writing. I really try to keep the thinking at a high level while still being personable and as clear as possible. Thank you.

      I like that sentiment that you “love the “flaws”” in humanity. I think learning to love the flaws is required if one is to come to love other people and oneself. I like that you put “flaws” in quotes though — our shortcomings are integral to who we are and help us to learn and grow. It’s a precarious sort of balance and can be frustrating when you’re looking at yourself, but it makes so much more sense when looking at other people.

      I will do my best to continue to challenge your (and my) thinking and present questions that I feel are important. Thanks so much for the compliment on my writing. Again, much appreciated.

      Say, since you’re reading/enjoying a lot of my stuff, maybe you can provide a bit of feedback. Perhaps you noticed that as the articles get closer to the present, more and more of them include content from other authors. I still dispense some of my perspective, but I’m sort of moving in a direction of including content from other thinkers in most every post. I’m interested to hear how this sounds to people who read my site. I personally think the site’s value and credibility is increased by the incorporation of other thinkers, and I don’t want it to be all about me anymore. But yeah, just curious how that sounds to you, so if you see this, I’d love it if you’d let me know!

      Anyway, I really appreciate your comment. It’s an honor to have you as a supporter and member of the community! Hope to hear from you soon!

      Best,
      Jordan

      Reply
      • venusbu03

        I think incorporating other thinkers can be great. I always like to find new authors or books, and even a good quote can inspire me to seek out written works by that person. I also like reading the commentary by other people (like you) and what you take from it. It expands my grasp of topics.

        For example, there are many brilliant passages from Rumi, Thich Nhat Hanh, etc., that bring me great insight and comfort. But reading what other people take away from those same passages broadens my perspective. Also, some ideas are a little beyond my ability right now to fully comprehend, and reading it in a different way (either by commentary, relating a personal experience, or discussing various articles as a unity) can help me bridge that gap in my understanding.

        Reply
        • Jordan Bates

          Great to hear, venusbu03. That’s perfect feedback and honestly exactly how I’m hoping my readers feel. I feel the same way. Thank you. :)

          Reply
  4. Francis Meyrick

    Excellent, grasshopper.

    Reply
  5. Job

    lol I can relate to bates. except I don’t drink and I don’t fall for women easily, I just adore them and I am always myself.

    Reply
    • Jordan Bates

      Glad you can relate. Indeed, I enjoy a good beer and have been known to fall fast and hard. Sounds like you’re doing your thing, and that’s grand. Best.

      Reply

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