The world is full of hypocrites. You. Me. Every single one of us is a hypocrite.
Is it better or worse to be a self-aware hypocrite? New Agers will tell you better – they think self-awareness is the first step to enlightenment. I think worse because when you are aware of your own hypocrisy, you are painfully conscious of everything you do and say, and the multitude of ways they may be interpreted as hypocritical.
I come from a land of criminals and thieves. The excreta of an apparently civilised nation. The British, at the time, did not believe in rehabilitation: born a criminal, always a criminal. There was no doubt. And so the criminal class was established.
Britain could not wait to rid itself of its nasty lower class scumbags. It planned to punish this criminal element by banishing them all to a savage and uncivilised land. But the Americans had risen up and revolted against them. So the search was on for a new savage land.
They thought they’d found the ultimate barbaric frontier in Australia, a land filled with filthy natives, hopping rats, grey trees and a harsh climate. Perhaps they were right. It is an unforgiving country and breaks many spirits. But it is also paradise.
Australia is a land of extremes. Drought and flood. Desert and rainforest. Cultured and savage. Straight and gay. Criminal and thief.
I wonder whether the British still believe in their criminal class, exiled to colonies on the other side of the world? Probably. They’re an arrogant lot, the British. Well, that’s what I’m told. But I’m also told they don’t bathe and only eat chips with mayonnaise. They hate the French but retire to France. They sell their Queen to the newshounds for a quick buck. Their favourite sport involves watching foxes torn limb from limb by packs of beagles.
They don’t sound so civilised to me.
If they do still believe in their criminal class, then I am forever destined to be a troublemaker. Although I would never consider myself a criminal.
I am a creature who is several people and one person at the same time. How is such a thing possible? And yet, how is it not?
I am never sure from day to day who I will be tomorrow – or even in an hour. Can anybody truly say they are the same person they were yesterday?
There are many labels people try to apply to one such as I. Mostly, I feel, from ignorance and age-old superstitious fear. They all draw the same conclusions: we hear voices in our heads – the word of the devil – and have no control over our various selves and their actions. We must be locked away; not just for our own good, but for the good of the people.
But this is untrue, at least for myself. I hear no voices, especially not that of the devil, and am perfectly comfortable with the various people that I am. For the most part, it makes for an interesting life to never be quite sure what I’ll fancy or dislike tomorrow, what memories I will have for yesterday and which fleeting personality I will be partial to donning for today.
I may be the same person tomorrow as I was yesterday, but I can never really be exactly the same. I will have learnt something new, found a new distraction, seen something, thought something, experienced something, dreamt something which will have made an impact, an almost imperceptible change, somewhere.
Who can say they have not had this very same experience?
This is my dilemma. The past is full of memories, the future speculation. Neither contain a shred of reality. Reality cannot be fanticised, although people will try to anyway. It is full of warts; contradiction, frustration, beauty and devastation. Reality does not pander. It does not censor. It has no conscience. It simply delivers.
New Agers despair of people who deny the present or simply tolerate it for the moment. They say it’s dangerous, fanciful to live in the future or the past. They believe we can only be truly happy in the moment, in reality.
Our memories are romanticised. We remember only what we choose to, good or bad. Our memories are exaggerated, contorted, changed to suite our perception rather than reality. This is why when we return to a place, it is never quite the place of our memories. It has become the place of our imaginings, nothing like reality.
The future is fanticised, often perceived as somehow far better or worse than the present or the past. Or reality. What we dream for the future, once it arrives, is never precise. The future is always surprising us with its unpredictable nature. How can we imagine that which we cannot conceive of?
But people choose to see only what they want to see. We censor reality so that our memories are sweet and our dreams hopeful. We do not like to be reminded of the truth. Some people have made a career out of hiding the truth and romanticising reality, to suit their own agendas. They don’t like the truth to be revealed to those they are hiding it from, although who can say why when most people will choose to ignore it anyway; the safety of the manufactured romance is often preferable to the truth.
I for one can say with certainty that the New Agers are wrong. I see things too clearly, and see no reason to censor the world, although I know that I too can be something of a fantasist at times. There are so many truths that we can’t like them all; it’s simply not possible. Just trying to comprehend them all would drive a person insane. If we are disappointed by reality, our saving grace is that reality is short while memory and fantasy are eternal and ever changing.
Who am I? Am I a fantacist or a realist? Hippie or hypocrite?
Perhaps I am insane. Will the devil will start instructing me in my dreams?
© Bea Pierce, 2001