Untruth & Consequences: Debriefing

By Tardsie

It’s In Here Somewhere….

In which a conclusion is drawn, many “umms” and “y’knows” are uttered, and the author’s resemblance to Greta Van Susteren becomes painfully obvious.

Further Reading:

Mama said wisely, “A boy gets to be a man when a man is needed.  Remember this thing.  I have known boys forty years old because there was no need for a man.”

John Steinbeck


Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood.  Write with blood, and you will experience that blood is spirit.

Friedrich Nietzsche


What cannot be cured must be endured.

Old Maxim


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33 Responses to Untruth & Consequences: Debriefing

  1. Brigitte says:

    The cartoon Smak is kind of freaky but your voice — I can understand why you do what you do. That “happy” thing, as you know is something I try very hard to “preach” and practice. Taking the good with the “bad,” all of it brings you to the who you are — now. I think when people look back on their life and view events or situations as painful, it’s because they’ve not forgiven themselves of some “transgression.” Your past doesn’t define you because it doesn’t exist anymore, know what I mean?

    Some of your life chronicles, the way you wrote them, didn’t necessarily seem as if they were horribly painful, they seemed more like lessons — life lessons — and all of us have them. I love the moral of the story by the way. Everyone has a choice, at any time, whatever she/he may be going through to be happy. It’s all perception and how one chooses to look at life. I think as you grow older, you understand this more fully through awareness and some soul-searching. That’s my take on it anyway. I enjoyed these, Smak and thanks for sharing them.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Brigitte–it was my pleasure. And no, I never thought you saw these tales as melancholy–it sometimes seems that you and I have arrived at similar places in life. But it happens enough with people that I get sensitive about it. Some time ago I posted a joke on FB about my juvenile criminal record, and at least one person completely misunderstood it, and replied to the effect of “Nobody judges you for that any more, get over it.” It bugged me, because I realized that people thought I was seeking sympathy or reassurance for “my pain,” and missed entirely that I was making light of it. I have no intention of “getting over it,” but that doesn’t mean the same thing to me that it does to other people, I think.

      Anyway, it’s always a treat when you read my stuff, Brigitte, because I feel like you know most of this stuff anyway (and undoubtedly lots of stuff I don’t know) on an instinctual level, if not consciously.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I enjoy these strange but cool vlogs. Very unique. And I like your take on happiness. Except in exceptional circumstances, we do indeed have control over our ‘happiness’–control over our choices, control over our responses to others, control over our perceptions, etc. And once people recognize this, they are that much closer to the ever-elusive happiness.

    By the way, I hope you don’t mind, but while I was listening, I put lipstick, mascara, and just a hint of bronzer on you. Kind of like my very own Tardsie Make-up and Styling Head.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Yeah, I do believe we ALWAYS have a choice over our own happiness, but sometimes that choice is harder than other times. For example, it takes a very special person to remain happy while fighting a terminal disease. But I’ve seen that. I’ve seen it in my own family. It was a thing of beauty; and it still takes my breath away.

      As far as your makeup suggestions, I heartily approve. Because of my coloring, I tend to look washed-out sometimes, and I think a little infusion of color would be just the thing to drive the boys wild. Thanks, though, for not suggesting foundation. You noticed that I have really great skin!

  3. I like what you say here, Smak (Is this what I should call you, by the way?). I wonder if you would feel the same had you written about these events right after they had occurred? Do you think distance somehow lessens the emotion of it, or rather, just allows you to be more objective. There are probably a lot of things that have happened to me that I wouldn’t have been able to write about until time had passed. I couldn’t agree more about what you say here about crappy things happening to people, who are happy or not happy. Some people choose to believe they are victims perhaps. We do have the ability to contextualize and choose how we want to view our lives. Why not choose happiness? Yes, indeed!

    • Smaktakula says:

      Smak if fine. Call me what you like, just don’t call me late for dinner. And you thought I was wittier than that, huh? No, low-hanging fruit is fine for me.

      if you would feel the same had you written about these events right after they had occurred?

      This is an excellent question, and one I might be asking as well. No, I take things pretty well, and fortunately, I don’t have to take my own word for that. For all but nine months of my adult life, I’ve kept a journal. I went back to check what I’d written about getting kicked out of school. This is an exact quote from my journal, the very first thing I wrote about my experience. I’ll let you be the judge.

      “I have experienced a major setback in my life, but also a learning experience: I have been suspended from school for drug use.”

  4. I truly envy your ability to be candid and straightforward on a vlog like this. I could never do it. It’s clear you spend a lot of time examining your life, the choices you make, etc. This is a very cool thing, especially that you keep a journal about it. I come from a long line of unhappy people, and I was raised to distrust “happiness” in that “the worst” was always around the corner. Putting some distance (but not enough) between my extended family (parents, in-laws, aunts, cousins) and my immediate family (wife and kids) has helped, but I constantly have to remind myself that, as you say, happiness is simply a choice. I tell my older son that as well from time to time, but being a living example of happiness will have a much greater impact on him than simply telling him how he should live.
    I really enjoyed this series. It was both entertaining, and thought-provoking. And by the way, even with the graininess, you look a lot better than ‘ole Greta.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Bill–and I’ve had less work done than Greta as well.

      I appreciate the kind words. And your comment hits on a point that I often conveniently ignore. Our genetics go a long way toward determining our disposition, and while we certainly have control over it (we are not slaves to our DNA, I don’t believe), it’s going to be easier for some. This is true with any capacity, intelligence, athletic ability, etc. Growing up, the biggest influences on me were my mom and grandmother, who were (and are, in the case of my grandma) happy people. So in this way it was a little bit easier for me. And I’m sure living where I do doesn’t hurt.

      Deciding to keep a journal was a life-changing decision (well, not quitting after two weeks was really the life-changing decision, I’d made several abortive efforts over the years to start one). It’s had a great many positive effects. One, and I think this is a benefit of regular writing of which most people are aware, is the effect it had on my writing. I didn’t notice until years later, but my grades in school for writing assignments showed a marked improvement that began just a few months after I began keeping the journal, and persisted throughout my college career. But it’s also helped me make sense of my own life. Being self-reflective is in my nature, as I spend so much of my time in my own head, but writing about stuff helps to process it in an orderly way, and sometimes helps you put things in perspective. A lot of times, if I’m angry or upset about something, I can write about it before I ever discuss it with another party, and often find that in doing so, I realize I was being a silly little bitch in the first place, and there was nothing to get upset about.

      And lastly–and I think this is critical–my family and friends know that these personal writings are to be destroyed upon my death (the files are encrypted, but can be deleted). This allows me to be honest, as you don’t want to censor your private thoughts. The downside is that if you’re accused of a crime, the police can access these very private thoughts. But electronic media is easier to hide and preserve.

      • Well, good luck having your private files destroyed / deleted posthumously. That’s what Kafka wanted, too, and look what happened to him. His private secretary never followed through, and the damn guy got famous! (though he never got to enjoy it, of course.)
        Anyway, always look forward to your stuff.

  5. calahan says:

    If ever I need a book turned into an audio book, I am so hiring you.

  6. Alex Autin says:

    Wow Smak this is very cool. You seem like someone I could spend hours talking with.

    Though it may sound cliche, I think one of the keys to happiness is acceptance. Acceptance of who we are, sure, but most importantly acceptance of who others are. A great amount of unhappiness we humans experience is created in our self-pitying agony that our loved ones behave in ways which somehow betray us. I think one of the greatest reasons for divorce is our attitude of ‘either you be exactly who I want you to be, never betray my ideal of you, or fuck you I want nothing more to do with you’.

    Just as happiness is an inside job, entirely self-generated, so is misery. Expecting others to behave in ways which make us happy is just as messed up as then blaming them for our misery when they don’t preform as expected. I think self-help gurus and TV talk show hosts perpetuate these thoughts of entitlement by filling us with the nonsense that our relationships with others in some way requires that that person always behaves in ways which meet our approval and stroke our emotional well being.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Thanks, Alex!

      You are so right regarding misery. And while things in your life might make it more challenging, I think it’s ultimately up to you. A great example of this is Victor Frankl (author of “Man’s Search For Meaning”), who arrived at his secret to happiness while a prisoner of the Nazis during the Holocaust. I think if he could find dignity and meaning in that hell, then living the lives of relative privilege and safety that we do, so should we.

      You’re also on to something about the perceived nature of relationships these days. I know that there was a time when I fell into that trap, and rather than compromise, or trying to determine what was REALLY important to me, I tried to change her. It was not a success.

  7. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Holy smokes Batman – you DO look just like Greta (but you have a much nicer voice!)

  8. unfetteredbs says:

    Dear Smak-
    I so dig your style. Thank you for sharing and your insights.

  9. El Guapo says:

    An excellent summation, Smak, with a great delivery to boot.
    There are some things I’d disagree with. I think the moral would also include (as the title does) be happy, but be aware of the consequences. As I made my way through my younger years, I would often stop before doing something incredibly stupid (but highly entertaining) and think about how much trouble it might get me in.
    Rarely stopped me, but it was nice to not be blindsided when people came around looking for me.

    The other thing I’d ask is do you really not think that the stunts we pulled when younger don’t define us?
    If you hadn’t gone through all that, but been a straight laced student followed by a career professional with the same happy outlook, would you be Smaktakula in anything but name?

    And finally, no, Greta is not hot.
    (I just felt that needed to be said before something bad happened.)
    (Think of the consequences…)

    • Smaktakula says:

      Sir, you may even be wiser than you are handsome (if such a thing is possible). I appreciate the kind words AND the disagreement. And that’s not me being either arch or trying to be a good sport–I really appreciate it. This was important to me, and to find something to disagree with you have to both hear the message and think about it. So thanks, man. I’ll address both of your points, as I think they’re good ones. In one case, the disagreement may only be a difference in terms, and perhaps a weakness in my explanation. We’ll see.

      I think the moral would also include … be aware of the consequences

      Absolutely. We have the freedom to choose our actions, but we don’t have the freedom to choose their consequences. I totally agree. But in my defense, I was shooting for a 3.5 minute video (the final product was closer to 5 minutes; maybe 4.5 minutes without all the “ums” & “ahs,” y’know?), and really had to pare my message down by concentrating on only one moral/lesson.

      The other thing I’d ask is do you really not think that the stunts we pulled when younger don’t define us?

      I really don’t. Here’s where we may just be disagreeing on terms, though. I don’t think any external force defines us–we do. However, very often (myself included) people define themselves by default based on these external forces. For example, Everybody thinks I’m a loser, so therefore, I’m a loser; or because I spent time in prison, I’m no longer able to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Please understand that I’m not for a minute saying that it’s easy to to fight these powerful forces that attempt to define us, but that we have the capability.

      You have an excellent point when you suggest that my life (or anybody’s life, really) might have been very different had I chosen a different path. That is of course very true, but I don’t think that these events have defined me, but rather, I have defined myself to a degree by the lessons I (consciously or unconsciously) took from them. It brings us to kind of the same point, but I think that it’s not the outside stimulus, but rather our response to it, that defines us.

      Anyway, you got me thinking, which I really appreciate.

  10. Seems to me, Smak; it’s only those things that we keep ‘hidden’ within ourselves that we need to fear… From all my reading (and listening) I find you a real ‘open book’ to yourself and others… Like I said: It’s only those things that we allow to remain hidden that have the power to hurt.

  11. renxkyoko says:

    I like your take on life… ” past events don’t define you”… I like that. I’m trying to look back, but I don’t think I have experienced any defining moments, as yet…. well, I guess not pursuing medical school is a defining event in my life. Come to think of it, that’s huge.

    Oh, by the way… you have a ” radio” voice.

  12. Smaktakula says:

    Reblogged this on Promethean Times and commented:

    I first posted this a year ago tomorrow, and I expect a lot of you have already seen it. However, it’s something I believe fiercely, and it seems as appropriate now as it did then. Remember, we only get one trip through life*, so do it the best you can.
    *Excepting, of course, Hindus and other faiths whose beliefs incorporate reincarnation. But even in those instances, you’ve still got a vested interest in getting it right. Nobody wants to come back as a flatworm.

  13. I like your take on things and general philosophy. It’s sometimes hard to remember that an event in that moment which seems like the worst-thing-in-the-world (telling a parent you were kicked out of school) is really only one event in the whole scheme of life. It helps keep the drama check – and if you approach a situation with calm – then it’s received more calmly than if you’re all caught up in the drama of the event itself. Does that make sense?

  14. calahan says:

    I can’t hit the Like button a second time or else I would, Smak. :)

  15. Alex Autin says:

    I ‘Unliked’, just so I could ‘Like’ it again. :)

    And wow, has it been a year?

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