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Fri Jun 26, 2015, 08:30 AM

A Path [View all]

“For all roads to wisdom must first pass through the valleys of doubt.”
-- Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; letter to H2O Man; 1974


A couple days back, I posted an essay about shame -- about how some folks attempt to use guilt to manipulate others’ choices in politics. We see far too much of that on this forum, both on an individual and group level. There is a third sibling of emotion that may be worth our consideration: doubt.

Obviously, “doubt” isn’t limited to things political. Nor, for that matter, is it always an internal function ….a person might doubt that Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton would win the general election. But, for sake of conversation, let’s focus on the internal aspects of doubt.

The human brain is hard-wired in such a way, that doubt is an experience common to almost everyone. The exception would be the psychopath, a reality that should assure those who tend to suffer from self-doubt that they are okay. We tend to doubt ourselves in three general areas: the past, the present, and the future.

Did I do the right thing? Am I making the right choice? And, which of these is the best option for me to take tomorrow?


Yesterday, my Little Sister visited me. She was accompanied by her twin sons, who just turned five. (She was, for a time, my sister-in-law; however, we were extraordinarily close, even before she met my brother.) She had “rescued” an aggressive, ill-tempered rooster the day before, that her neighbors left when they moved. It had attacked her husband in the morning, and they didn’t want it around the boys. So, of course, I took it.

As we watched the boys exploring the pond, we talked about life. Some events in her recent experience have seemed less-than-perfect. She said that she sometimes questions if her earlier life was “wasted.” If she should have done this, or not done that. The type of self-doubt that we all feel, from time to time. The types of things that, while standing inside the subjectivity of the picture frame, one needs to discuss with some trusted person who has the objectivity that comes from being outside of that frame. And is this not exactly what a big brother is for?

We were near my lodge at the time. She used to do sweats, years ago, and said that she really should start doing them again. I asked why? “To deal with some of life’s frustrations and hardships.” Right: the ceremony (or, ceremonies) there are not limited to those who are “perfect.” They are for human beings. And to show us that all that we have done, and all we have endured and survived, has brought us to the exact point we are at now. And that is exactly what we require, in order to prepare us for what we are today, and what we can be tomorrow. And there ain’t no doubt about that.


The worst type of doubt that any of us deal with -- and most of us will, to some extent, at some time(s) -- is questioning if we have value? Is our life worth-while? Do we have worth? These are among the deepest and darkest of those valleys of which Rubin spoke.

For those who experience this type of doubt, the answer is “yes.” You matter. You are a worthy, individual spark of the universal energy force. By definition, you have unique value.

Any one who has attempted to convince you otherwise is lying. It may have been your parents, a teacher, an ex-lover, a boss at work, a person on television, or even yourself. But it’s a lie. For, as Rubin wrote a few lines later, in that same letter from the near total darkness of solitary confinement: “Everything under the sun is exactly as it should be ….or it wouldn’t be.”

When one realizes that -- truly grasps it in their brain and heart -- then they can deal with today. They can even venture into the “wild west” of DU:GD, during presidential primary season, and be confident enough to simply state their opinion, express their values, and refrain from getting caught up in the foolish arguing that is all too common here.

Peace to all of you here today. And wish this old man luck: I’m preparing to go back on tour with public speaking. This afternoon, I’ll be speaking to mental health professionals about avoiding “burn out.” Next week, I’ll be speaking in a nearby city about the Indian history of central New York State. It’s a start.

H2O Man

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