Kin Lane

Creating Myself By Examining Everything

I have been enjoying a set of essays by James Baldwin lately, exposing myself to his unique ability to tell stories about racism in this country, which dives deep into the systemic racism that exists, but also highlights the human conditions that perpetuate racism all around us each day. After reading this sentence two or three times I wrote it down in my notebook, “People who cling to their delusions find it difficult, if not impossible, to learn anything worth learning; a people under the necessity of creating themselves must exam everything, and soak up leaning the way the roots of a tree soak up water.” It really spoke to me. It spoke to me about my journey and why I am perpetually examining myself here on the blog, but also on why so many people I know are being left behind in my journey. In hindsight, it is much easier to see how people cling to their delusions for so long, that these delusions become cornerstones of their reality, and how doing this prevents them from ever moving forward, accepting new ideas into their reality, choosing to be left behind.

I have always kind of felt like an elite asshole for not going to see friends from an earlier part of my life in the part of the country where I grew up. After a dozen or so times on only rehashing the good old days, I haven’t done the work to drive 12 hours to go and see them. Now, there are a handful of folks I will make this trek for because they are still progressing in their reality, and I can talk about the old times, but also engage in interesting discussion about new topics, and what the future might hold. When you have a friend who only lives in the past, and only listens to the same songs we listened to in high school, it is a sign of not being able to examine their reality on a regular basis, and explore the world around them. Before I began examining things at this level I simply thought about the fact that I don’t do the work to go see them. Something that is often times is thrown back at me by my friends as well. When I see our relationship in terms of an ability to examine and learn from the world around us, and being in denial and clinging to delusions, I begin to see things being more about a deficiency in information nutrients in their reality, that make “it difficult, if not impossible to learn anything worth learning”.

If I see these friends on the street, or during on of my increasingly rare visits to the area I grew up, I am more than happy to say hello and embrace. I am just not going to do the work to seek them out. I don’t feel like they are bad people, unworthy of my time, I just do not have someone I can share the joy of learning with anymore. In this second half of my life I am looking to examine and soak up as much from he world around me as I can. I have less than 50 years left on this planet, and I’ll be damned if I am going to spend it rehashing the same old stories and listening to the same old songs. Sure, I’ll revisit the past to experience some momentary joy or a shared memory, and of course learning from our past is critical, but never in any way that prevents me from learning new things and being exposed to new ideas. If I stop learning, I feel like I will die. I have to keep questioning and examining what is going on. I have to keep working to unwind the negative programming I have received over the years and free up the storage in my old brain, allowing me to store new memories, grow new ideas, and soak up interesting facts and stories from diverse communities that push me out of my comfort zone. This is how I will be perpetually creating a new version of myself, until that day comes where I leave this beautiful earth.

The definition of conservative is “averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values”. For me, this definition explains why some of my friends who were more liberal when we were younger but are now switching to be more conservatives—-politically that is. They prefer clinging to their delusions, and they find it difficult, if not impossible, to learn anything worth learning. They like television, movies, and Facebook. They don’t read books. They don’t seek out answers to the questions they have. They have long stopped asking questions of themselves and the world around them. They only sit back and wonder why the world has to change around them and why it is that their “traditional values” have to change. This isn’t me. For me, it is a necessity to be constantly creating myself. I feel this insatiable appetite for examining everything about who I am, where I came from, and what I believe. I want to learn anything I can get my hands on and soak up new ideas. If don’t I feel like I will dry up and wither away. I feel like I will die. It scares me to not be progressing and continuing to define who I am. It is how I grow. I am not the same person I was when I was young. I am not the same person who grew up in rural Oregon. I am still creating myself. After I examine and tear down some pre-programmed notion I had about what white supremacy is or isn’t, I then replace with a new view of the world we live in defined by someone who doesn’t look like me, or grew up where I grew–repeating over and over. Expanding who Kin Lane is, only keeping the best of who I was, and replacing it with the most interesting ideas that I can find by perpetually examining the world around me.