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Maybe I Can

I have two seemingly conflicting beliefs. The first is that whenever possible, it is best to know the truth. By default I think that we sometimes avoid the truth, and we sometimes avoid giving the truth. In almost every case, though, having a clear picture of the truth will allow you to operate more correctly. At the same time, I also believe that holding certain beliefs will benefit you whether they're true or not.

One such belief is that anything is possible. Even in the face of seemingly impossible tasks, I like to believe that maybe I can do it. It's a little bit insane for me to believe that a two-man team of Todd and me can compete against WordPress and Tumblr, but I really believe that we can. Now that we've built something that people really like it's not so crazy, but it was really crazy when we first started. When I got into pickup, I had to believe that I could go from being extremely introverted and awkward to extroverted and sociable. There was little evidence to support that possibility.

I say that these two ideas seem to conflict because I believe that they are actually quite compatible. When looking at the history of others, as well as my own history, I've noticed that we consistently underestimate what we are capable of. Our idea of an honest look at our capabilities is actually further from the real truth than is the assumption that we can do everything.

Rounding up to the nearest 'everything' is not only more accurate than our best critical assessment, it's also much more valuable. The cost of being wrong is usually illusory. If you think that you can become a master violinist, act like it, and turn out to be wrong, you'll still make more progress than if you believe that the ceiling on your ability is lower. At the same time, the cost of incorrectly capping expectations is to provide an artificial ceiling on your achievement. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone progress further than they believed they could.

Do we really want to know the truth? (2010)

On Purple Music

We think we know the people around us. Each one of us, there’s that one person who we think we really know. We think we’ve cracked them open, learnt their secrets, and can tell what goes on in their heads… regardless of what everyone else says. We think we are different. We are too confident. Humans in general seek uniqueness, we like to believe that we are special. That’s why we ignore warnings, and avert our eyes from plain evidence; we think we know better.

The world is a confusing place. Yet, a part of us believes we have it figured out. The truth is, we know nothing. We know nothing about how the universe runs, nothing about the people around us, and to a certain extent, nothing about ourselves. And that’s why we are always surprised. Because we don’t even leave room for the mere possibility that we might be wrong.

Humans, by nature, are inquirers. We are on a constant quest to find truth, to figure out reality. But all the time, we stand in our own ways. We are our own obstacles. We might think we want truth, but we don’t… we want truth to shape itself into what we already think it is; what we have grown accustom to. We don’t know, and we don’t want to know. We are happy in the inert state we live in, in our bubble. We claim that we want our knowledge to extend, but those are only words we recite to fool ourselves into believing that we are growing.

I say this, and I am aware that I too have restricted myself using my own chains. You see, the realization of a problem might be the first step towards solving it, but sometimes a step isn’t really enough. Even though I have been hurt too many times, I continue to trust. I continue to see the good in people, and let them into my life, and my heart. I hear people talking behind each other’s backs, and I assume it won’t happen to me, because you see, “I’m different”. But I can’t imagine another achievable scenario of living. Because even though living this way will bring out trouble, there are moments that make it all worth it… moments that couldn’t have happened without trust, self-deceit, and foolishness.

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