Sunday SUNDAY sunday

September 19, 2011 at 3:16 am (Uncategorized)

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You know what’s a funny mental image? Bigfoot in a cowboy hat.

So, I was in church this morning (as I am wont to do these days…14!) and I realized that I probably don’t have the most appropriate inner monologue during services. I am easily distracted at times, especially when everyone is doing the call and response and I am attempting to furtively people watch. For instance, Father Vogel started mass telling everyone that “today was a day that we should remember and reflect upon Jesus’ resurrection…” and a bass line starts in my head.

Dah dun dun dun dun dun dun, dah dun dun dun dun dun dun….

It continues playing quietly while he talks about today’s readings and sermon. Then he has everyone take a silent moment to pray.

Guitars explode in my head.

‘CAUSE THIS IS THRILLER, THRILLER NIGHT, AND NO ONE’S GONNA SAVE YOU FROM THE BEAST ABOUT TO STRIKE…

Jesus gets up off of his cross in the center of the room, and starts doing the iconic dance. I crack a smile. All of the saints join in, and Jesus takes the lead. He’s rocking out, long hair flying all over the place. He’s got an electric guitar and is using the power of 80s pop to do battle with Satan, surrounded by dancing devils and angels. They’re vying for our souls, but a part of me thinks they’re also doing it for the music.

…I realize about a beat too slowly that everyone is sitting down, and I join them. Fortunately I do a lot of things a little slower than the people who actually know what they’re doing, so no one notices.

My mind also tends to wander during the Eucharist prayer as well.

Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, he took bread and gave you thanks, He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and eat it;
this is my body which will be given up for you.

In my head I see Jesus tearing off chunks of himself and handing them to the disciples. I also misheard Father Vogel and mixed up the second and third clauses of that sentence…so instead in my mind I’m imagining Jesus saying “take this and eat it you, ALL of it.” The disciples are stuffed but it’s like that scene in Matilda where that chubby kid has to eat an entire chocolate cake.

 When the supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it;
this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.  

Jesus is now slicing himself open and pouring his blood into the cups. The by now rotund disciples have vaguely ill looks on their faces. I’m cringing slightly imagining the blood just pouring out of the inside of Jesus’ elbow. Again I mixed up the words and the disciples need to drink ALL of Jesus’ blood.

I force the images from my mind; I’m starting to get a little queasy. We start singing, and I’m able to focus on that instead.

I guess all this might be vaguely blasphemous…I don’t really daydream maliciously, and in my defense I get off work at 7am, sleep for a couple hours, wake up at 10 and go to mass at 10:30. So maybe my brain isn’t totally out of the “you’re dreaming” state yet. And if you’re the kind of person that would get upset by those thoughts in my head, don’t worry. I’d be going to hell anyway, so you can rest easy knowing my eternal damnation is almost certainly assured regardless of heretical thoughts in mass.

Of course, 99% of the people reading this don’t really care one way or the other, and are just hoping to be amused or at the very least vaguely interested by what I’m writing. For you, I hope that task was accomplished. If it wasn’t, don’t fear. I’ll probably be writing again tomorrow night unless I just sit here with a mental block like I did yesterday. In that case you’ll have some quotes. Boom

Shifting gears…

Alton asked me to come into his leadership class and talk about authenticity. My first thought was yes, of course I’ll come and help facilitate a discussion about that. Talking and listening are two of my favorite things to do. It’s why I love meeting new people, going out to coffee with friends and strangers, and generally learning about people. It’s easy to say that you love the world, but going out and really showing that you care about everyone; that’s another animal entirely. So that was the first thought. My second thought was to laugh and think, “I want to go into politics, he’s picking me?” Of course, I’m not the kind of person that really wants to deal in misinformation, so perhaps it’s not the worst choice. And then I wondered…am I really authentic? I try to be, I really do. But I know I don’t always succeed. I fall into the traps so many of us do when we are searching for love and acceptance and sometimes I don’t act like myself because I want people to like me. I’ve gotten a lot better about that over the last couple of years, but it’s an easy thing to do with a personality like mine. I also realized I would have to come up with something at least mildly interesting to say, and since I have this blog to work out my thoughts, I figured this was the forum to talk about authenticity.

I’d love to hear about your own thoughts on the subject in the comments. What is authenticity to you?

Authenticity to me has a couple of components. Before we go there, though, let’s start with what it says in the dictionary:

1. The quality of being authentic, genuineness.

The first part of that is not helpful at all. I like genuineness, but let’s keep going and see if we can tease out a bit more of what I’m looking for. I found a second definition which I think works better for my purposes. I’m going to copy and paste it; hopefully the formatting won’t look insane.

authentic  (ɔːˈθɛntɪk) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
— adj
1. of undisputed origin or authorship; genuine: an authentic signature
2. accurate in representation of the facts; trustworthy; reliable:an authentic account
3. (of a deed or other document) duly executed, any necessarylegal formalities having been complied with
4. music
a. using period instruments and historically researched scoresand playing techniques in an attempt to perform a piece as itwould have been played at the time it was written
b. ( in combination ): an authentic-instrument performance
5. music  Compare plagal
a. (of a mode as used in Gregorian chant) commencing on thefinal and ending an octave higher
b. (of a cadence) progressing from a dominant to a tonic chord

So the formatting only looks slightly insane. I can live with this.

1. Of undisputed origin or authorship.

I like this definition. I don’t think it’s trending towards defining authenticity in people as far as this goes, but I think one can see it as such. If I have an undisputed origin, I am me. It’s not like that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where he gets cloned (the name escapes me at the moment) and he has to prove he’s the reahl Ahnold. So I am the Jordan Alexander Hensley I say I am. These are in fact the droids I am looking for. Clearly, though, I’m not going to be able to make much of this, especially in a more serious academic setting. That’s ok. There are a whole bunch more definitions I imagine will work better.

2. Accurate in representation of the facts.

This is also not exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s better than the first one. I mean, we should strive to be accurate, and we want to portray an accurate picture of ourselves to the world, but is that really what we’re looking for? Doesn’t seem to be.

3. In the legal sense…something has been deemed to be accurate. Again, more a descriptor of a thing than a state of being (which seems to be what we’re looking for). Onward we go!

4/5. Music!

I lumped these two together because they are very similar, and the fact that number 5 confuses the hell out of me. Interesting use of authentic which I haven’t thought about before, but again, for my purposes it isn’t what I’m looking for.

So where does that leave us? Maybe I need to take a look at that first definition again. And maybe the word I’m looking for is genuineness. Maybe instead of genuineness being a synonym for authenticity, authenticity is the synonym we use when talking about our own personal genuineness. So I decided to click on genuineness.

It took me to a link talking about the synonyms of authentic, and I think the answer lies within. I also found it interesting, so I decided to copy the entire post:

“Authentic/genuine/real/veritable all share the sense of actuality and lack of falsehood or misrepresentation. Authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be: an authentic Rembrandt sketch. Genuine refers to objects or persons having the characteristics or source claimed or implied: a genuine ivory carving. Real, the most general of these terms, refers to innate or actual—as opposed to ostensible—nature or character: In real life, plans often miscarry. A real diamond will cut glass. Veritable, derived from the Latin word for truth, suggests the general truthfulness but not necessarily the literal or strict correspondence with reality of that which it describes; it is often used metaphorically: a veritable wizard of finance.”

Two terms stick out to me in particular–the lack of falsehood or misrepresentation and persons having the characteristics or source claimed or implied.

So if a person is authentic, they have the characteristics they want to or are implied to have, and they don’t misrepresent themselves in terms of those characteristics. I have to show that I represent those qualities. The most obvious question is whether or not I actually am authentic. In all situations, probably not. But it’s something I’m working on and have gotten better at. I’m a work in progress, so I just have to be as true to myself as I can at any given moment. I feel like this blog is my attempt at authenticity…to portray how I am, and not be someone who I think people want me to be. If I can keep my pandering to a minimum throughout my life, I can be successful in that regard. Something I have always tried to do is just write what I’m feeling, and maybe it’s not always great prose but it is true to myself. That, to me is more important. I am fortunate in that it doesn’t much matter whether or not people actually read this.

Alton gave us all a few quotes to think about as we formulate our ideas on authenticity. A few of them stuck out to me, and I’ll attempt to work through those.

“If I risk myself, I may lose your approval.  If I lose your approval, I will perhaps still be larger, for I will have gained my own approval.”  James Hollis, On This Journey We Call Our Life:  Living the Questions. p.30.

It comes back to what I was saying earlier. Everyone could say that I’m a fool (and perhaps I am), but if I do what makes me happy (living the examined life and trying to think through what I’m doing here and how I can find meaning) then at the end of the day I probably am doing what is right. I tend to believe that people respond to authenticity. No one likes to get bullshitted. They want the truth, they want accuracy. Now sometimes they can’t deal with those things, and then you run into problems, but people’s incapability of handling the truth at a given point in time doesn’t strike me as a good reason to not give the truth. And since it seems to me that the truth usually wins out, you will be vindicated in the long run. It is important to note the distinction between being true to yourself and saying or doing controversial things and doing whatever you feel is best for you. Selfishness is not the product of self-reflection, and if that is the cause of one’s loss of approval then you have another problem entirely and probably aren’t being honest with yourself. If you aren’t honest with yourself, then how can you be authentic?

“To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”  e.e. cummings

It’s so easy to seek validation from others…to want people to love and care about you. In the pursuit of that I think we often turn into other people. If you really want people that love you though, you have to be authentic. You can’t live a lie your entire life knowing that people like you because of something that isn’t substantial. The truth eventually comes out, and if you haven’t cultivated real relationships with people who love you for who YOU are, then you’ll end up alone and without any validation at all. I also struggle with the need to be validated and knowing that the only validation I really should be looking for is the validation from myself. I just want to be liked. What if people don’t like me? There will always be people who will care for you if you care for them. I think that you need to love yourself before you can love the world, and you might just have to love the world before it can really love you.

There are several more quotes that have gotten me thinking, but my mind is a bit blurry at the moment and I feel as though my writing has become more and more incoherent as I continue to write this post. My brain throwing up into my fingers which then spew forth onto a keyboard. In any case, I do feel as though the most important thing you can do is be yourself, because that’s the only way you’ll ever be happy with yourself. You have to embrace it.

So how do I start telling any of that to the classes I’m working with this week? Well the beautiful thing is that I don’t have to. I can give a bit about myself, tell a couple of stories, and then let them think for themselves about it. Let them steer the conversation; all I need to do is moderate. Undoubtedly they will help inform my opinion and bring me to a level of understanding that I don’t have at 3:15am on a Sunday night. I’ll just leave the world with a couple of quotes:

“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations. Don’t overanalyze your relationships. Stop playing games. A growing relationship can only be nurtured by genuineness.” ~Leo F. Buscaglia

And this I fear because I also fear remaining in obscurity forever:

“I’m afraid of losing my obscurity. Genuineness only thrives in the dark. Like celery.” ~Aldous Huxley

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