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I was in one of Those Moods recently, and I told an online friend in whom I have a certain degree of trust that they could ask me anything they wanted. The first question wasn't much, but the follow up turned rather interesting. I gave them a choice from three topics: The Turning Point, The Power of Lies, and Edgy Sexual Fantasies.

They chose The Power of Lies, and what follows is a proofread and slightly expanded version of what I told them.

I was fairly young when I first experimented with falsehood. I watched others do it, and some of what they attempted seemed... amateurish. So I decided to be a bit more careful, a bit more canny... and I discovered that I had a talent for it. Note that while it wasn't as conscious a choice as that might make it sound, I am describing it through the wisdom of hindsight and the conceit of the storyteller. But it captures the flavor of it.

As time passed and I both improved my skill and realized some of its potential I started to rely on it, though I was careful about how and when. At least, that's what I told myself when I got that... twinge you get when you know you're doing something wrong, but you do it anyway. I started enjoying that twinge, and became more selective - but more crafty - in how and when I chose to employ my abilities.

I found out much later that this often happens to people who are becoming, or will become, Bards. The ones that don't manage to get control over themselves - who self-destruct, or turn to crime, or whatever - never get to the creative side, the service approach, of the true Bard.

More time passed, and along with my glib tongue came a nascent ability to discern the lies of others. I fostered that faculty, as it made my deceptions easier to craft. There were times when being able to come up with a tale constructed whole cloth from my imagination saved me from considerable trouble that I had, admittedly, got myself into. It also made me a more creative person in good ways: I play roleplaying games avidly, and constructing a world for people and interactive storytelling are greatly enhanced by having +3 Improvisational Bullshit. Theater games, too, became easier, as did my stage presence and ability to take on a character. For in a way, are these not all lies we tell to the audience? I *am* the Ghost! I *truly feel* the pain of the loss of my daughter / kingdom / horse!

More than once, though, my steps on this path brought me pain - and worse, brought pain to those around me. I lied to my friends, to my loved ones, to my family, and ultimately (as I'm sure some of you saw coming) a great deal to myself. And of course, from time to time I got caught, and the consequences were in some cases quite emotionally dire.

At one point I almost fell far enough to lose what talent I had discovered by engaging in a long-term lie that nearly destroyed the group relationship I described above. It happened in part due to a horrendous and long-term depression I got caught in, but I do not accept that as any sort of excuse. It was my choice to make, however unbalanced my brain chemistry might have been, and I made a poor one. Basically, I cheated: I sneaked off to have sex with someone outside said group... and it wasn't the first time I had deceived them about such things (though the previous instance had been within the group, and if that sounds complicated, well, it was. But that’s another story.)

Some lessons don't get learned the first time you crack, eh? Especially ones as rooted in depression as mine was. It took a lot of therapy for me to feel human again, and counseling for all of us so we could figure out how to deal with ourselves and each other again. I cannot thank my family enough for giving me more than one chance to get my figurative head out of my figurative ass. That they did so is a sign of their great love for me, and I work hard at not taking it for granted nowadays.

I still retain the silver tongue I developed during all this, and there are times when it serves me well in positive ways. It feeds my creativity, my courting, and my ability to be diplomatic; I have turned away from the unscrupulous path on which I once readily trod. At least, for the most part.

It's difficult to stay on the wagon, as it were - rather like an alcoholic, as there is an addictive quality to telling fibs and getting away with it. I'm still good at it, too, and in all ironic honesty, sometimes I give in to temptation. I typically confess afterward, though, and I have been training myself gradually not to indulge in those selfish moments. As well, I root out the lies I have told myself whenever I can, and seek help, whether through counseling or otherwise, when I cannot handle them on my own.

Because of all that, one of the things that really pisses me off (and very little does these days) is when I tell the absolute truth, as objectively as possible, and someone else's lie is believed instead. It happened a couple of years ago with a traffic accident.

But you know what? That's okay. Perhaps it's even penance or justice for what I have done in the past. Or perhaps it's just life; things don't always happen for a reason.

Besides, no long-term harm was done, and in the end, I know the truth, and I know that I told the truth. And at this point I live a life much more steeped in truth than I ever have.

And that's the Power of Lies.

Comments and questions are welcome <3

Light and laughter,
SongCoyote
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I found these thought-provoking questions on an artist's blog and liked them (and that artist's answers) enough that I wanted to post my own responses to them.

1. Would you rather be deaf or mute?

Mute, no question. I would still be able to effectively communicate via the written word (and eventually ASL). Not being able to hear music again would be devastating.

2. If you're a writer or an artist, which is more important to you: the purity of your expression or the impact it has on your readers or viewers?

I wish I could say that purity of expression was first for me, but while it is very important, I truly thrive on people's reactions to my creations. I'm also rather frightened to put myself at risk when delivering them, but I am fortunate enough to have received fairly good reviews of what little I have made public... and good golly I love that.

3. Under what circumstances, if any, is a group of people morally justified in taking an action that an individual would not be morally justified in taking?

Oof, a question of morality enforced by a majority? I definitely tend to have a distrust of the group-mind, at least as it exists today. The person whose blog I found this on had this to say, and I agree wholeheartedly: "Ideally major decisions would be reached by consensus... and yet I can't help but think of a quote from Men In Black, of all places - "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals." I have to agree with this - I can trust an individual. I will never trust people as a whole."

4. Are there any types of people that you really, truly hate? If so, what motivates them and how is it different from and how is it similar to what motivates you?

I am not a being of hate. Even the insane neocons that seem bent on destroying the world I don't hate, and there are certainly no individuals I feel that way about. Dislike? Mistrust? Sure, I've got that (though less now than when I was younger; I'm mellowing with age). But I just don't seem to generate hate... for which I am grateful.

5. War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

I used to respond "absolutely nothing" with true conviction, but in spite of recent misuse of the idea of war I've softened my stance a little to "maybe once in a rare occasion it can be useful to use military might to conclude a situation". And I do really mean rare.

6. Do you think you could raise another person's child with as much love and devotion as you could for a child of your own blood?

Oooh, this is so damn touchy. I'd certainly like to think so, and am even considering it via adoption. In spite of this I can totally see myself thinking "It's not even my kid!" in anger or frustration... but I certainly wouldn't voice such a thought. I hope.

7. What are the fundamental differences between computer intelligence and human intelligence?

Right now, the difference is so vast as to be very difficult to discuss in a short response. Eventually I believe we might be able to create an AI that is indistinguishable from a human, but even then there will always be differences (unless you're talking a REALLY long time in the future - I'm talking WAY past Star Trek - and assuming we don't kill ourselves off).

But to the actual question: the fundamental difference is in intuitive leaps based on seemingly random concatenations of information. I just don't think the quasi-random nature of that kind of inspiration can readily be modeled, or at least not in the foreseeable future. I look forward to being proven wrong, though, provided there's no Singularity ;)=

8. If your significant other was transformed into a FIM-style pony, how would that change your feelings for and relationship with him/her/hir?

What fun that would be! Considering we've already done *ahem* intimate pony roleplaying, after we got over the initial shock I think we'd be just fine. Dealing with the consequences in the real world would be a challenge (especially if she were the only one to whom it happened) but my xenophilic nature and sapiosexual approach to life would almost certainly mean that our relationship would continue quite happily.

9. Under what circumstances would you commit treason?

The moment it was the right thing to do. Laws, even the most stringent and harsh ones, are there as guides and guards. If it is my responsibility to do something because I am sure it is right, then I'll do it.

10. I don't care whether your posted answers are true or not, but did you lie to yourself when answering any of these questions?

Not in the least. I enjoy answering these sorts of things in part *because* I find myself able to do so honestly, sometimes even breaking down walls of which I had been unaware.

Besides, the few people who actually read this journal will not likely be too surprised by my answers, so even if I were inclined to be more circumspect this is a relatively safe forum for sharing bits of myself.

If you found these interesting enough to respond to yourself and are willing to share the results please let me know in a comment, as I am a curious creature ;)

Light and laughter,
SongCoyote
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Okay, time for a brief info dump on what's been occupying a lot of my mind and time the past couple of weeks: my father's health.
On Boxing Day my stepmom, Roz, told me he was in the hospital, so I drove down to see him. He had sepsis and a heart attack and almost died, but with great fortune recovered fairly well over the ensuing week. He went home New Year's Eve and while weak seemed to be getting better.
I drove down again yesterday at Roz's invite to attend their 21st anniversary party, on arrival discovered he was back in the hospital because he was getting weaker and short of breath. Current (and very probable) diagnosis: congestive heart failure. So... not a good long-term prognosis. He's now recovering (again) and getting medications to keep him going, and will got home (again) in a couple of days... but he's not going to live a lot longer.
As you might imagine this is taking up a fair amount of my mental bandwidth. If I'm busy or short or distracted or just not around for a while, I hope you'll forgive me as I face my father's mortality, and through his, my own.

I am still finding humor (he is, too) and making as much joy as I can in my life, and I will continue to do so; that's part of my Path. And so I close wishing you all a wonderful weekend and many smiles, as I will find as well.

Light and laughter,
SongCoyote
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A few thoughts on open relationships, as I said them to someone who asked for advice.

First off, open relationships are challenging, and definitely not for everyone. You are hopefully aware of how much communication a good relationship requires - especially a LDR as you currently have. Well, each additional person multiplies the complexity if you are truly being open about what you're doing. And that's what it comes down to: being open, honest, and compassionate with your choices, including compassionate to yourself. A little selfishness is okay, so long as that doesn't rule your choices or override how you treat others.

So what do you do about it? (Please note that I'm better at this in person where I can interact and ask questions, so please pardon me if I include stuff that you feel isn't directly relevant to your situation.) Well, there are two people involved in this decision: you and him. If you want an open relationship that still has him at its core, that's fine so long as you tell him that. Before you start such a conversation, though, you both need to consider all of the following (plus anything else that comes up; this is just a start): what happens when you develop an emotional attachment to someone else? What about sex with other people? Are you both permitted to behave in the same ways? (The answer to that one should ideally be "yes", though "I won't but you can" is acceptable if you can establish that it's truly heartfelt.) Are you interested in continuing to date others even after you're together full time? Are you actually seeking other lovers / life-mates / etc. or just getting some human contact while waiting to be with him?

Give each other time to come up with answers, then get together and compare them. Be open, honest, and direct; dancing around the subject will make it harder and will (not can, will) make it too easy to continue dancing until you can't tell what the truth of the matter really is. Find which answers you can compromise on and which are "it must be this way". If you can find sufficient common ground, make an agreement... but be prepared at any time, even immediately after making it, to re-negotiate if the situation changes. We're tricky critters, us humans, and even after careful consideration we don't always know our own minds and hearts. Be patient with yourselves and each other, be sure to listen as well as be willing to speak up, and keep on communicating. The discussions you'll have as a result of this have a good chance of enacting change in you, in him, and in your relationship - and generally, open communication only improves relationships, even if that "improvement" isn't what you expected or desired.

And above all, through the whole process, remember that he's likely as nervous and unsure about all this as you are. Be as kind as you can without compromising your core values, whatever they may end up being.

That's a start, and enough for now, I think. If you'd like to discuss it more or have more questions, please e-mail me at SongCoyote at yahoo. I am glad to help where I can.

....
Recorded here so I don't lose the threads of this thought :) Cross-posted to LiveJournal.

Light and laughter,
SongCoyote

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