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Solipsism, Self Doubt & Self Pity


“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”  ― Ursula K. Le Guin

Solipsism – at least in its most extreme metaphysical interpretation – holds that the world and other minds don’t exist.

Only the mind, the consciousness and the creations of the Solipsist are real.

Not only does nothing else matter, it’s simply not there.

So, If I were a Solipsist, you would not be reading this.

You wouldn’t exist.

Or if you did, it would only be at the whimsical discretion of my  mind, which created you.

I would be part God.

And a lot Devil.

It’s a lonely position.

But my goodness it’s straightforward.

While I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with that amount of power, in my worst moments I long for that sort of clarity.

“We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are”  ― Anaïs Nin

I’m not a Solipsist as far as I know – think about that; how would you? – in fact, I am riddled with Self Doubt.

It’s just as destructive a position but I haven’t ever been able to shake it.

Where the Solipsist sees only what he or she has created, the Self Doubter sees only what he or she has not.

Or what they are incapable of.

The glass is not only half empty but I’ve always had the feeling I’m about to drop it.

Like Solipsism, Self Doubt is a self-created, self-replicating, self-fulfilling world.

Self Doubt is life’s mould; it grows well in the dark.

But unlike mould, you  have to feed it.

“And I confess that, like a child, I cry. Ah, self-pity; I think we are at our most honest and sincere when we feel sorry for ourselves.” ―  Iain Banks

Self Pity is Solipsism and Self Doubt’s illegitimate child.

It couldn’t exist without this aberrant genetic heritage.

And I’m ashamed of how often I fall prey to it.

Even that last sentence is a cop out.

If I’m so “ashamed” why does it keep happening?

(I’ve been making excuses for decades.)

And “fall prey” makes it sound – conveniently – like I don’t have any choice.

The fact is my life has changed radically and in ways I find difficult to navigate.

Almost three years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic disease that is as mercurial as it is destructive.

It’s incurable but won’t kill me.

It’s episodic but there’s no way of telling when it will strike.

It’s debilitating until it’s not. And vice versa.

I’m “well”  so much of the time.

But which time?

I can leave the house.

Unless I can’t.

So many people live with far, far greater challenges.

They battle pain, confinement, loss of function and the reality of eventual death from their enemy.

Meniere’s spares me all of those.

“People are actually dying, Bid,”  I challenge myself in my braver moments, “for quokk’s sake get over yourself.”

But this illness has all but robbed me of pursuing my absolute passion – acting – and I can’t seem to make peace with that.

I know I must.

And will.

Courage is, after all, what you do when no-one’s looking.

My favourite comedian Steven Wright says;

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”

I figure that’s where my existence is at right now.

But one thing I’ve learned about the three horrors of Solipsism, Self Doubt and Self Pity; surrender to them and your life’s a shadow.

Information Radiation: The Half-Life Of Online Hate Speech


There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you’re lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.”  ― Philip K. Dick

For 28 years, I was a journalist.

I used words as tools; sometimes as a megaphone, sometimes as a balm, all too often as an axe.

I was cogent and clever and current and cutting and conceited.

And ultimately careless.

Life has since taught me that one can’t be too careful with words.

Of all the weapons of destruction that man could invent, the most terrible-and the most powerful-was the word. Daggers and spears left traces of blood; arrows could be seen at a distance. Poisons were detected in the end and avoided. But the word managed to destroy without leaving clues.”

 Paulo Coelho

The person who wrote about sticks and stones breaking bones but words not hurting really didn’t understand the heart.

Or human beings.

As much as we pretend – as much as the world tells us – that we are intellectual beings who happen to have emotions, I believe it’s the other way around.

We are emotional, spiritual beings that happen to have intellect.

This is not to deny or decry the astounding gift, the incredible capacity, of our brains.

It is merely recognition that, in most ways, our hearts rule – often overrule – our heads.

Indeed, there’s a Native American proverb; “Reason is the white man’s curse.”

This, again, is not meant as a dismissal of the power of intellect.

It is a salutary lesson that some things – important things – must be felt; some answers simply don’t come with reason.

I shall tell you what I believe. I believe God is a librarian. I believe that literature is holy. It is that best part of our souls that we break off and give each other, and God has a special dispensation for it, angels to guard its making and its preservation.”  ― Sarah Smith

Late in my journalistic career I was a foreign correspondent and Bureau Chief.

I saw and experienced things I wish I had not.

Decades later, I cannot un-see or un-feel those terrible events.

So the power of my words and the intensity of what I experienced are forever fused together.

And that’s my point today.

In the age of the internet, we have the power to do what I call “impulse boo” – the social media equivalent of the impulse buy.

We can reply sharply – and I mean in terms of time and tone – to virtually anything that crosses our screens on social media.

And we do.

And often we shouldn’t.

Or we should at least wait and choose our words more carefully.

For in the internet age, those words, those images – of ourselves and others – will be there for decades, if not forever.

In sheer pragmatic terms, they are the first port of call for modern bosses; the people who might – or might not – consider employing us.

Our online “footprint” is the first thing savvy employers check these days.

But more importantly, they are a portrait of ourselves, to ourselves, that we may not like.

They are a mirror to our often ugly, unfiltered inner thoughts.

And what we said so carelessly might devastate another.

Words never fade away but echo on for eternity. Let your echo ring sweet.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

I write this at the end of a terrible week.

Thousands of people are dead or endangered following a massive earthquake in Nepal, two young men have been executed in Indonesia, race riots are tearing apart US communities and a thousand other atrocities darken the globe.

Two of my friends have lost loved ones.

In the midst of life we are always in death.

But it reminded me that what we say to – and about – each other never mattered more.

Of all the thousands of words I’ve read about this awful week none has touched me more than those of a friend and fellow performer, Ruby Alice;

Let’s all love that little bit harder today.”


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