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Truth be told…

How often do you have to hear something before you decide it must be true? As I recall from my High School English class, you need to back up any claim with at least three credible sources. Ideally, these three sources should have different pedigrees for their research. Their conclusions should derive from different sources. In other words, they should not all just be repeating the same rumor. In today’s world, that means three re-tweets do not make a truth. Neither does three Facebook shares or re-posts.

Source 1:

For those of you who have read my handful of posts, you know I am currently binging on the writings of Richard Thieme. I have been re-reading “Islands in the Clickstream” and often jumping to his blog to read more. On one such trip I noticed I had missed a special, limited printing of his latest book, “Mobius: A Memoir.” Distraught by this I decided it was time to pick up this and his other writings, namely “FOAM” and “Mind Games.”

I reached out and was able to purchase them directly from him. The bonus was he kindly signed them for me. When they arrived, I decided, for no particular reason, to start with “Mind Games.” Now, I do not usually read multiple books at the same time. However, since this was a collection of short stories and “Islands in the Clickstream” a collection of blog posts, this worked for me.

The first story, “Zero Day: Roswell” is a fictional confession of a “them.” A “they.” A “Man in Black.” A “puppet master.” An introduction is provided giving a short discussion of the piece. In it, Mr. Thieme records the comments of one reviewer, a friend and former NSA Analyst. His comments included the statement

“Ninety-five percent of your story isn’t fiction. But you have to know which 95% to have the key to the code.”

– Richard Thieme, “Mind Games, Introduction to Zero Day: Roswell”

The easy path of course is to immediately go down the rabbit hole with words and phrases like “conspiracy theory,” “disinformation,” “Post-truth politics,” “Illusory Truth Effect,” “Firehose of falsehood,” “Gish gallop” and others (Wikipedia has pages for all of these terms) screaming through your mind. But it was a different line of thought that jumped out at me.

During his “confession,” our Man in Black refers to “Humplings.” That’s you and me, the average joes. He claims, Humplings do not know what is best for them. They are happiest when kept busy and not quite comfortable. This is a theme you may recall from the “Matrix” movies. But he also mentions something very specific. One idea of theirs he considered “sheer genius”; the thirty year mortgage. The idea is it keeps us busy during our “dangerous years.” It tricks us into chasing a dream and keeps us invested in the stability “they” have manufactured for us.


Source 2:

A radio station I discovered recently (Millennials and younger, please refer to the following link for an explanation…) includes inspirational messages and moments throughout the day. One particular message however, jumped out at me. It talked about getting off the “Validation Treadmill.” That term alone makes the message pretty clear. The advice was to stop measuring yourself by current trends and driving towards a goal filled with false promises that ultimately get you nowhere. Instead of leaning in, perhaps it is time to step back and find your true purpose.


Source 3:

I have always joked that my fundamental financial philosophy is “money is no good unless you spend it, and credit is as good as money…” This was a joke of course, but looking at my financial status you would not think so. Historically, my response to financial tom-foolery was to just go out and earn more money. We have even tinkered with investing and the like and have several books on how to do so. After all, my formative years where the 80’s and Reagan-omics. Making more money seemed like the obvious answer.

Somewhat bewilderingly, this never actually worked. We did manage to come tantalizingly close a few times to being debt free, but never seemed to make it that last mile before meandering off into yet another financial wasteland.

As I look around for advice now, I am finding something new. I see much less about making more money. I see less about investing in my future. These two points do not go away mind you. They are still important. However, they do take second place to simply managing your money better and living within your means.

In reality, this is no different than before. Sound financial advice would always have you doing so. This is more like changing which sylLABle you put the emPHASis on. Yet doing so changes your focus in an almost unsettling way. For the first time, you realize just how far off the paved road you have wandered. You also realize the dream you have been chasing has actually been leading you on a wild goose chase for so long you are not even sure where the paved road is anymore. You feel so lost, the simple act of making a budget to live within your means seems an Herculean task. Like Cypher from the Matrix movies, you start to feel the bliss of ignorance is far more soothing than knowing and dealing with the truth. It is all too easy to just slip back into the comfortable habits of before.


What to do?

So how long do I continue to ignore these messages telling me I am doing it wrong? How long do I continue to pursue a “sensible” path, ignoring the fact I never really cared for it in the first place? How long, do I continue to ignore the simple happiness within my grasp and already in my home, in favor of some mythical “big win?” How long do I continue to pound my head against a door that seems to have closed, ignoring the hallway of open doors around me?

Perhaps my answer comes in the form of this timely advice from Melissa S. of South Dakota, by way of a Dove Candy wrapper:

“When life isn’t going right, go left.”

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Truth be told…

by Robert time to read: 4 min