Truth has become whatever you want it to be

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the guest quoted Brené Brown. I’ve never read her books or listened to her podcast, but I did catch her 2010 breakout TED Talk, The power of vulnerability. Back then, I immediately tagged her as an expert in all things human connection.

Remembering I have her in the category of ‘expert,’ plus the quote I had just heard, and it was plenty good for me to search up one of her podcasts. The one I listened to included both Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard.

Tim Ferriss said something. His comment brought me to another podcast.

I proceeded down a long and torturous podcast rabbit hole.

Days (and so many ridiculous podcast hours) later, I listened to Megyn Kelly and former Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian.

Who cares how I got here, right? THIS is where it all gets good. (Everything before the ‘but’ doesn’t matter.)

Boghossian talks about “lived experience” and how it becomes a reality, regardless of the facts. His example and I won’t do it justice, so you may want to bring up the podcast on your own, was centered around the number of unarmed black men shot by police each year. One woman said the number is 22,700 (unarmed black men shot by police each year). Another woman said it’s 7,000 that are shot.

The fact (checkers) says that number is 13.

As if living in an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” doesn’t already make it hard to know what to believe, let’s throw in “lived experience” or “post-truth.”

According to the lived experiences of these two women, they set the number far, FAR outside the actual.

“My opinions are no longer things ripe for judgment and discussion, but rather they are opportunities for the fundamental aspects of myself to be “right” and to be considered “right” by the people around me.” ~ Kate Colombo

Gone are the days when people would say, I think. Now it’s, I feel. This language ultimately positions the speaker to regard his opinions less like ideas he’s informed with facts and more like personal truths. And, wham, there you have it. This form of discourse displaces the importance of truth and replaces it with “what is true for me.”

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Before today I would have said speaking my truth is acceptable and should be considered more honest than any mere statement of facts.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Can we speak our truth sometimes and have it received as truth, but other times default to actual facts for truth? Is that possible? Serious questions. I’m not choosing a side. I mean, our personal experience influences how we decide things, but is that just an illusion?

I guess the truth is, I don’t know what the truth is.

O, Principles, Where Art Thou?

Taken from an email from my company to 20,000+ employees:

“Also, we are in the process of examining the details of President Biden’s recent six-part COVID vaccination mandate. We will be updating protocols and expectations, in line with regulatory requirements, and we will communicate them to you as they are developed and implemented.” 

Sometimes you have to take a stand. Have the courage to say, “I believe in…” And stand by your principles. That’s the true lesson here. I’ll pay any price to stay true to character. Because that’s one of the few things in life that’s really worth it.

I may be looking for a new job. Anyone want to hire a marketing nerd? (Nerd is code for genius.)

Do you love your problems? Because that would be helpful.

In the middle of a grinding conversation at work: “X wants to sell more lamps so if we find out what kind of wine their customers drink…” Pause. Pause. We’re thinking… thinking. Brows are furrowed. Or maybe just mine?

We’re working this RFP like a piece of gum, folks. There’s a lot of chewing going on but all we have to show for it is an achy jaw.  

“Hey, by the way everyone,” I raise my hand for pause and effect, “I just want you to know, I LOVE this shit. This is my idea of fun.” And we plod on.

(That’s right; no one can say I’m not going the distance with my calling!)

OK, so maybe not every meeting or interaction or event in our lives brings a monumental level of emotion or impact. And not every event is meant to shake up our lives in a big way. But some do.

Here are six events that rocked my world — and I list these in the most pragmatically joyous sense:

  1. In 2012, I sent an email to 700+ employees that was meant to be read by only three regional chiefs. (In the words of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, “You know, would I leave my Keith Richards hat with the silver skull on it, on the stool at the coffee shop at LaGuardia? I wouldn’t do that again. But overall, no, I don’t have any regrets.”)
  2. I chased after a boy and chased him away. (Once you feel you are avoided by someone, never disturb them again.)
  3. I wrote my will. (Nothing will grow you up faster.)
  4. I turned 40. (It was a fantastic year of sass & soul. I often mingle back and pretend I’m still in my prime. You can usually find me there on Tuesday’s.)
  5. I created a bucket list. (Before I had this list, I jumped out of a plane strapped to a guy with the nickname Frogger. Now I follow the list.)
  6. This event hasn’t happened yet, but it’s slated for May 2022. I’ll give you a hint: this.

Mile 20

I’m running a marathon, and I’m at mile 20, and I’m tired.

This is the perfect segue. Kick me in the shins if you think otherwise.

Today.

It’s either like, ok, I’m using ALL my brain cells here, and the client doesn’t give a rat’s ass, or I’m using zero brain cells here.

There’s this story of a girl. She was 20 years old when she started writing her first novel. It took her 10 years to finish it. She was 30 when she hit the NY Times best seller list.

She was hailed a genius for the times. Her book was being made into a motion picture; it was translated into seven languages. Everyone wanted her on their talk show and podcast. She was on the news doing interviews almost daily. She won literary awards.

She had it all.

Ten years later — age 41 — and she was unable to write and finish another book. She had hundreds of starts, but not even a first chapter.

She went down this dark path of assumption. With decades left in her, she feared that anything she wrote from that point forward would be judged by the world as ‘the work that came after the freakish success of her first book’. She started to believe that it was exceedingly likely that her biggest success was behind her.

This led her to drink gin at 9am.

The lesson: Me, like she, needs to know to put a safe distance between myself and the anxiety if I want to continue to do the thing I love — and that’s writing. Distance between myself and what the reaction of that writing is going to be from now on.

(Also, if you really start to get into this gin thing, there is another realm: vintage gins.)