Listening to Your Inner Voice
Writer’s Note: Tonight I had the great fortune of enjoying yet another extraordinary dinner and deep discussion with friends and colleagues.
Steve Schorr, Race and Sportsbook Manager at Harveys Lake Tahoe (pictured standing at center in photo) made the mistake of including me in his good graces, an invite that’s always sure to result in an assault on the liquor cabinet, several off-color comments, and a sink full of dirty dishes.
Gracie, his longtime companion and our host extraordinaire for the evening (standing with Steve in the photo) served a dinner that would have made Henry VIII bust his pants. The only thing more pleasing than the fresh salmon and glazed lamb chops was the company.
On second thought, while the company was indeed wonderful, those smoked lamb chops served with a reduction sauce were pretty damned good. Sorry Steve, you’ve been upstaged by a slaughtered lamb.
Naturally, with good friends and wine comes interesting conversation. The following essay was prompted by our discussion.
If we have a sixth sense beyond the known five, it’s probably instinct.
Think about that for a moment.
An inner voice.
Were I to define instinct, it would be perception which cannot be measured nor transposed. But it’s real. Just as touch is a tangible sensation — a neurophysiological process of transmission from body to brain — it’s not necessarily defined in the abstract. After all, we see objects, we hear sounds, we taste flavors, we smell odors. But touch isn’t quite the same. Accordingly, isn’t it quite possible – even probable — that all the evolutionary tools we’ve come to master over hundreds of thousands of years are now manifested in a greater awareness of our surroundings and a dominion as to how to optimally react to stimuli?
Alas, this is what I call instinct.
It’s taken me most of my life to erase what amounts to fifty years of ignorance or indifference to instinct. I’m hardly alone. We’re all inundated with second-guessing and self-doubt. Killers of human instinct. Assassins of truth. Which gradually leads to loss of confidence — and ultimately to sadness and depression.
Why is this so?
A few years ago, Henry G. Frankfurt wrote an important book for our lives and times. It was titled “On Bullshit.”
The provocative title put off some prospective readers, no doubt. That’s unfortunate, because his message desperately needs to be heard, and (assuming it’s not too late) some serious side-effects of the incessant lies of the so-called “information age” need to be corrected. I stand before you now imploring that were you to follow your instincts with greater regularity, you will likely be happier, considerably more self-confident, and ultimately become a champion in ridding others of what has become society’s infectious epidemic.
This is the cancer called bullshit.
Just about everything we see in mass media is complete, total, utter bullshit. What we view on television, over the Internet, on the road while driving, waiting in the subways, walking through airports — just about every public place is designed with one motive in mind. And that’s to manipulate you. Manipulate you into buying something. Eating something. Drinking something. Doing something. Visiting something. Believing something.
It’s all a giant national forest of lies, and no one can see through the trees anymore. It’s a giant con game and we’re all the suckers on the other side of the Three-Card Monte table. And don’t think for a moment you’re immune to it. This is a society with an economy built on competition (as opposed to cooperation), which means winning at any cost, and by consequence creating a loser (or many losers).
And that’s the fuel which feeds the dragon.
Don’t get down.
This is not an essay full of cynicism. To the contrary, it’s what shall become an expression of optimism. But you must read, you must think, you must act, and ultimately you must trust. Trust yourself.
When you write, when you talk, when you communicate in any way, trust your instinct. Once you abandon that inner voice, you have quite literally committed fraud. You have become yet another purveyor of bullshit. You have become part of the problem, rather than the solution. When you abandon your deepest instinctual feelings and then twist or hide them, you have committed intellectual dishonesty to others, and to yourself.
Let take press releases, press conferences, and political speeches.
Virtually all the quotes you read in press releases are crafted by an agency or someone other individual who is actually attributed with the quote. Moreover, many famous people hire others to post on their Twitter accounts. Facebook pages and websites are updated by flunkies. Which basically means nothing is real anymore. Day to day living has become completely automated. You’re basically bombarded with messages carefully crafted by pretty much the same army of paid robots you hear when dialing into customer service call center.
Bullshit is everywhere. It affects us all. Most famous people use ghostwriters (and then have the audacity to take author credit), which is essentially nothing more than widely-accepted plagiarism for an acceptable price. Master manipulators make the stupid sound smart and lies sound like the truth. That’s what they’re paid to do. They’re in the lying business. It’s like ideas are given a heavy dose of plastic surgery.
This is how you reach the stage of the absurd. It’s how Kim Kardashian earns 1,000-times as much per year as an inner city counselor.
In short, virtually nothing that’s sold or created for mass audiences is instinctual. It is carefully-crafted bullshit, scented with honeysuckle.
During the course of our dinner last night, I was asked about the process of writing — a skill which I hope to improve through the course of blogging. The person asked me what’s the most important thing to do when writing. That was an easy answer for me.
Trust your instinct.
One can plainly see that I never edit anything. I write one first draft and hit “send.” That’s how I chose to do things (at least in this blog — technical writing is quite another matter). I’m convinced this is the only way to communicate in a totally free-flowing style utterly void of bullshit. More important, that ways it’s never like work. It’s almost like play. Think of that. Shouldn’t writing be fun? Shouldn’t reading be fun, too? But once I start changing words, altering phrases, or re-thinking what I’ve written, I’ve then sold out. I’ve discarded my purest thoughts and most honest emotions. And if I abandon those things, what’s the point of writing or communicating at all?
I always tell people who want to write (or improve their writing) that if they can talk — they can write. Because, that’s all writing is, which is talking. As these letters hit the page of a WordPress document, all I’m really doing is transcribing what I would be saying to someone sitting next to me, were someone bored or crazy enough to take that seat which more and more often seems to be vacant.
Here’s the bottom line: Trust yourself more and doubt yourself less. When in doubt, go with what your inner voice tells you. In the end, you’ll be much happier. Your world will be far more interesting than it is now. And finally, you’ll begin to live honestly for a change, rather than living a lie.
There are far too many lies.