At eight o’clock on a misty Tuesday evening in San Francisco I am weighing the pros and cons of running to the gym before calling it a night. I decide I had a rough day, with Norm’s endless spreadsheet busy work and the deadlines that never seem to be met, five o’clock just could not come soon enough. There is a chill in the air and the beginnings of a drizzle against our front window. My running shoes gaze up at me imploringly but I think I deserve a night off. Maybe I will even wake up early tomorrow and go to the gym before work. In the end, I am giving myself a mental pat on the back for everything I have not accomplished.
No one can lie to you better than you can lie to yourself.
There is an idea within us all of a perfected self just outside our grasp. This person, this smoke and mirrors version, is caught between who they are and who they want to be. The ego assures us that we are nearly flawless, only being held back by fill in the blank justifications. If only we were able to get out from behind the desk, if we had more time, more money, more freedom, we would finally be able to unlock our true potential.
As a part of our journey down the PanAm we are finding the opportunity for an incredibly intimate examination of our true selves. Suddenly we are unchained from the desk, we have more time, more money, and more freedom. Take away the desk job, the extra curricular obligations, and the day to day hang ups of life in the city and what we expected to emerge instantaneously was a stronger, better, faster version of our previous selves. But the ego is a thousand headed dragon, mercilessly seeking any excuse to offer up at the altar of half truths.
Now when we skip a workout or take an HBO brain vacation, there is no tidy excuse to wrap up the truth. We can’t tape up our denials, cover them in curled ribbons, and gift ourselves a fancy story made up of sparkling deceit. Our perfect selves remain hidden away, evolving silently in the back of our minds. In place of our anticipated reformation, new justifications have emerged. Without our old responsibilities the excuses now carry a startling transparency. Our flaws have become clarified and the freedom we find in honest acceptance is the best motivation in our struggle for improvement.
“If we’re being honest” is one of the worst and most revealing colloquialisms in the English language. Were we not being honest before? The phrase, however offensive, is meant to prepare the listener for a painful truth. As human beings, we want to believe we are the best possible version of ourselves. We like to think we are the person we dream of being and the person we often put on display for others in public. The ego insists we keep the truth buried deep beneath the surface of our lame defenses so that an honest confession from an outsider requires conscious mental and emotional preparation.
There is nothing to prepare us for difficult self reflections now, our faults lie out in the open anxiously awaiting improvement. The experiment is ongoing and striving for a better existence continues to inspire new changes and ideas for both of us. We hope to maintain this life sans sugar coating.