Today I had lunch with Jeremy, a friend I met through a study-buddy at college. We meet once a week to have dinner or lunch together and just to catch up and have some “guy talk”. While I enjoy conversations with all of my friends, none of them reach as philosophically deep a level as with Jeremy. My other guy friends are bit younger, so I enjoy their time in different ways (usually in the form of video games or catching movies or other social gallantry).
Jeremy describes our discussions as “airtight”, meaning that whatever we talk about doesn’t leave the confines of that very discussion, and nobody else is privy to the subject matter unless we deem it appropriate. It almost sounds like an elite book club meeting, but it’s really not–he and I are alike in the sense that we prefer clear definitions in every aspect of our lives, including events as mundane as discussions with friends.
Over the years, I’ve begun to think of our discussions as something more than just “guy talk” or the occasional venting about our jobs. It’s become more of a “responsive chalkboard”, a safe place in which I can expose all of my ideas to part of the world and get a reality check without suffering the repercussions of a public forum. Hence the term “responsive chalkboard”, of which “responsive” is pivotal. Without the exchange of ideas, it is merely a chalkboard, and the ideas would not undergo improvement through exposure.
I think everybody needs to understand and appreciate the importance of having their own “responsive chalkboard”. Our world is filled with contradictions and verisimilitude, and even different definitions of contradictions and verisimilitude, that sometimes it’s easy to believe that everybody else is crazy while you’re the only semblance of logic in a world doomed to worshiping the Kardashian sisters for eternity.
The responsive chalkboard doesn’t need to be a person, and it doesn’t necessarily need to share the same views on everything–in fact, one that diverges slightly on all the key issues is likely to be a greater source of truth than one that fully agrees throughout each exchange of ideas. One could argue that there is no exchange of ideas when you and your chalkboard agree on a consistent basis, in which case it simply becomes a normal chalkboard used only for venting frustration.
Somehow I feel that this type of interaction between people rarely occurs in our world. Philosophical banter is reduced to ashes in the flames of discontent, frustration, and the Internet. Great minds are reduced to basic political destruction or are forever tainted by our unfair and inept education system. It could be argued that there are no great minds any more, or perhaps that those still in existence are quieted by the throngs of those with no capability to utilize a responsive chalkboard.
I have a basic theory about people that states we are driven primarily by our insecurities rather than an insatiable quest for power, a theory which directly disagrees with the majority of the world. I believe that most people think a quest for power is the fundamental problem with our society, but I believe that thirst for power is driven by insecurity. At our very core, we are ashamed of ourselves because we see ourselves as weak and frail. Philosophically, this could be argued that we see ourselves as weak and frail due to our own mortality, and so death (or, put more correctly, our effort to avoid death) is the primary driving force behind our actions–but that’s a discussion for a different time.
I think that having a responsive chalkboard is a healthy step to overcome our own insecurities and resist the likelihood of adopting a power-hungry nature. It is a safe place to be challenged, to be reminded that we are all insecure, and to sort of reign in our Machiavellian tendencies.
What do you think? What or who is your “responsive chalkboard”?