self improvement

July 3, 2009 § 4 Comments

1. what if this entire project…that each of us is participating in…this entire project of self-improvement…is an illusion.

as in.  what if.  self-improvement is impossible?

i think about how much time i spend trying to be a better person.  how much energy i spend with that project.

and what would we do if such a project was and illusion?

what if there was no such thing as self-improvement?

and we all just are?  just us?

would we be free?

jaded hippy replied to this first part:

I think when it comes down to it, at some point we are just us. And we’re all we can be. But I’m very unsure where that line is drawn…

and my reply in return:

i am starting to think that that line is drawn now…
and all this constant self improvement be a better person all these personal goals of being a healthier, more aware, more moral, etc. person is fictitious.  that there is really just this.  who we are…and it is enough…
its like im cis privileged/trans phobic.  and i am not going to become less so by ‘trying’.  by working on my psyche or my mental state or my attitude.  or whatever.
because its really my brain that is transphobic.  my mental programming that is transphobic. in that my brain sees itself as significantly different or seperate from trans folk and superioro.  this is how i have been programmed by society.
i think the realization that i am coming to is: the brain is not very useful in creating relationships with other sentient beings…
brain is useful when trying to solve a math problem…or remember the past tense conjugation…
and we spend so much time *trying* to be anti-oppressive and welcoming and affirming to all people.  and to say that your life matters as much as mine.
and we fail constantly.
and i wonder if part of our failure rate is because.  we think about it to much.  and plan.  and scheme.  and figure out the right words to use.  because that is what our brain is good at doing.
the brain is good at remembering.  remembering the physics formula and the name of that painter from the 18th century and german.
but in creating relationships. perhaps our brain is about as useful as our kidney.  just another organ.
and once i still my brain.  quiet it down.  feel it more as a bowl that is constantly running over with new impressions.  and in this moment.  i dont have to remember.  in this moment.  i dont have to record it all in my brain.
then maybe it is like martin buber said.  in i and thou.  i see the world as i and thou.  but with the brain can only see the world. see others.  as i and it.

and when we are trying to improve ourselves.  constantly.  we are seeing ourselves as an ‘it’.  that needs to be worked on.  and so our self improvements are absurd fantasies.  because the process is all wrong.  our approach to our own selves and to the world.  is inaccurate.  we are not ‘it’.  cannot be figured out in such a way.  the best we can do is to understand the social/mental programming.  interrogate it.  investigate it. (that is what we do in our deconstructing oppressive social structures analyses…yes?)

and still and calm the brain so that it does not get in the way of us creating relationships with one another, relationships that originate from the ‘i’ meeting ‘thou’…and so all of our actions flow out of the place of i and thou. and the brain is just one more organ.  one more tool.  that can be used.  to help us remember what street we live on.  or whats the currency exchange rate in a foreign country.

and i think that this is so different from just trying to make ourselves better and better people.  constantly.

not sure if that make sense.

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§ 4 Responses to self improvement

  • whatsername says:

    I think when it comes down to it, at some point we are just us. And we’re all we can be. But I’m very unsure where that line is drawn…

  • Derek says:

    One thing I think should be considered is the effect a person has on others. This occurred to me while talking to Olwen last night. She mentioned that she has tried to become a better person largely because of my influence. When I was younger and was pretty close to John, he had a similar effect on me. Never forget that the tiniest efforts of compassion can have huge effects on others.

  • sisonalidio says:

    What if transphobia is not really you? What if letting go of transphobia (this is just an example) is becoming more of yourself, not for the purpose of becoming a better person, but for the purpose of seeing the world more clearly — the self/other dichotomy is not truth, for example? —Kim

  • tinyrevolution says:

    I can’t accept that conclusion about our brains – you know why? Because as a trans person I have had to struggle with internalized cissexism. There are many points in this process – probably most, if not all of it – where my brain functions exactly the same way as yours does wrt trans-related issues. The only difference is because internalized cissexism harms me directly i have a clear investment in fighting it and I have to try my best to be accountable to that, not out of a sense of guilt or abstract “self improvement” but for my own survival.

    If I am cognitively capable of doing that, then so is everyone else. It’s just a matter of, will you? Where do you stand? What do you have to lose or gain?

    Those are just my thoughts anyway.

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