"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday, 31 August 2019

No Guarantees

Everyone has had a splinter. Maybe it was a bit deep or it broke and was in there for a while. Splinters are nasty things. Ignore one and you can get an infection and die from blood poisoning. Mostly they eventually work themselves out and we move on.

If you are reading this blog it is fair to say that at some time and maybe now you would say something is driving you crazy. Like a splinter in your mind (yes, that is from The Matrix and who would understand that idea better than the Wachowskis?) it won't allow you to rest until you find a way to remove it ... but how?

Likely you spend all of your free waking hours researching and, maybe, if you have that resource, you go to therapy. The need to remove that splinter drives people around you crazy, too, because you act like a crazy person most of the time. You lose friends and, maybe, family, but it is a splinter and you have to get that thing out!

Therapy is hard work, but you have to do the work because if you don't you will never know what potential you have. So much of it feels like bullshit, but you trust that somehow it will make you understand yourself better, and that might be the key to getting rid of that thing that is driving you. 

Better informed about the cause of the problem, you make choices to make major changes in your life to stop the pain or live with it.

Here is the what if part: 

What if you decide to change and after all of the work and the pain of changing, you are then alone and poor but whole - no splinter? If you could go back, would you say to yourself, live with the damned splinter

What if, once you have that unimaginably painful thing gone, you are now at peace. You are a person that others don't mind being around and, more importantly, you are a person that you want to be; what if that? 

There are no guarantees other than the obvious ones. Taxes and death, they say. I had a choice about what my last thought on this earth might be. It could have been "why did I live with that damned splinter all my life?" 

Instead, I chose the path that has me thinking "what was it like to have that splinter?" and I expect my last thought will be about something else. Because I have been really lucky, and I did the work and made major changes, my thought will likely include being thankful to have lived this life


  1. I do believe my last thought shall be along the lines of " why the heck did I wait so long?! ".

    1. I've considered that one, Coline, and it seems I waited just the right amount of time. There were so many other problems I needed to deal with. After working on those other issues, I was ready to deal with the central problem. Until I believed in me, how could anyone else?

  2. It seems to me that there is a great deal of presumed choice in your post. In my experience (he says with thumbs under lapels, with bags of gravitas) people will not change so long as they feel they can adjust and manage. To change means to have courage. If the splinter becomes painful enough, one feels obliged to do something about it. In one sense, choice gets pushed to the margins; it becomes only nominal.

    Also and maybe, there are those amongst us who have a natural tendency towards the "left-hand path" down which personal salvation (I use that word in its broadest sense) is sought rather than working for the community with the concomitant loss of one's self. Only after finding one's Self can one effectively help others. I see no justification for dumping my baggage on others in the name of "good works".

    My last thought? Probably, "I didn't do enough; I didn't work hard enough!"

    Stay well, Halle. And thanks for the post.

    1. Tom, as always, you have sent my mind down too many productive paths to mention them all. Suffice to say that in those travels I've discovered among other things, that Jesus' splinter/beam comment in the sermon on the mount also appears in the writings of Rabbi Tarfon in the Babylonian Talmud!

      I will freely admit that my motives for removing that brain splinter were far from altruistic, but in fairness, there are all sorts of situations that apply, and as an author, I am aware that there will always be many different interpretations of what I write.

      One other path of thought came after a reading your last thought, that no less a genius that Leonardo da Vinci wrote at the end of his life "Was anything ever done?"

      So happy - always - to hear from you. You be well too, Tom.

  3. Hi Halle,
    A metaphorical thorn of one sort or another might be associated with how you feel more than anything else don't you think ?.
    Feelings are important and one might say ultimately they are all there is, even at the sharpest point pf the pencil during your teaching days ?.
    If it doesn’t feel O.K., that prompts you to enquire into yourself as in introspection.
    So isn't it is a constant state of becoming that the thorn(s) gets sorted out ? .
    The matrix was a good movie wasn’t it, even if it was formatted on a flawed concept of the mind? In fact one could jettison many of the ideas of the mind that dates back to Descartes reasoning and other enlightenment philosophers. Rather, I think we are more to the point free spirts who hopefully are in a constant state of becoming. That means we consider those things that as free spirits enter into our consciousness upon which we make judgments. You don’t always get rid of a thorn, it depends doesn't it ?
    Best wishes

    1. This is indeed a metaphorical thorn. As to being "how we feel" my intention was to make it stronger than that.
      As transsexuals, it is a challenge finding a metaphor for gender dysphoria. People will say things like "Oh, so you want to be a woman?", which implies some sort of casual desire. The drive to expose something, which has been buried deep inside and has to come out, somehow, is not something we act upon as a whim.
      The choice between the red pill - taking Neo "down the rabbit hole" to reality, or the blue bill - representing the choice to ignore the splinter in one's mind, was used effectively in The Matrix and has now made its way into our language independent of the movie. You might recall that there was an important character in the film who regretted taking the red pill and wanted back into the Matrix. In that case, as in a trans-persons, once you have made your choice you have to live with it, so, you do not take the red pill unless you must.

      As to being a free spirit, I would say that now I feel that way; no longer trapped in a phoney world created and forced upon me.

      For some interesting reading on The Matrix and the Wachowskis:


  4. I very much like the analogy of dysphoria as splinter. Each of us must decide how much they want to endure the discomfort of having it embedded in our bodies and once removed was it worth it given that there may be consequences or was having it there tolerable in retrospect..

    1. Thank Joanna. Hope that book is coming along well. We miss you here in Blogistan. (( ))

    2. The book is coming along Halle I am 50 pages in...:)

  5. Hi Halle,
    Thank for the reference and I now see what you mean. I am interested in firms as candidates for philosophy and one must say the Matrix has probably generated more philosophical discussion (principally the platonic cave and Descartes) than most other films. Best wishes

  6. A very good analogy, Halle. Unfortunately, I do have that splinter and it just won't come out....

    1. Only one who has done their best to live with such a thing can know how hard that is. Hopefully with such metaphors we can give some measure of understanding to those who have been spared this affliction.