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Partiality

I’m partial in myself.  I occupy only a bit of who I am, what I know.  I can’t include It All.  It’s too much.  I occupy only a fraction of the person I am and could be.

You are too.  What did you have for breakfast?  You probably weren’t thinking about it until I asked.  Then you probably can remember.  Do you really know what you want?  Do you know how others see you? Do they know how you see yourself? These social partialities create unconsciousness about identity. Who you are? Do you also remember the conclusion and decisions you made as a child growing up?  Probably not. 

Nor can I.  I must operate from the bits of me that I currently am.  And who I am is mostly unknown to others even if they cared and I tried to convey it all.

We’re all stuck with who we are, only it’s only a bit of who we are.  We try to wend our way with the identity we’ve come to be, and it’s only a bit of who we are, and that’s less than others know us as.

They say, “When you’re dead you don’t know you’re dead. Well, the same thing happens when you’re stupid.”  You and I are ignorant of what we’re stupid about, which includes not only the things we don’t know about each other, but it also includes the things we aren’t in touch with about ourselves. 

Now magnify that by all the partial people dealing with other partial people.  What emerges and what results is less than who we are and might be. 

J. Krishnamurti posed a curious conundrum: who are you to think you know what you need to be better?  You’re thinking with the problem.  You’re thinking with the past that has accumulated into the partial “I am” you think you are. 

You’re more than you thought.  You’re more than you can think. 

Funny how all these partialities function anyway, each only a glimmer of what each might be, all less than could be, especially given our judgmental, reactive tendencies. 

It’s taken generations, no, eons, to dare to try to be authentic and whole, especially with each other, much less our individual selves.  How can we be whole and authentic?  It helps to have a supportive culture.

Mae West helped us understand, “You only live once.  But if you do it right, once is enough.”

Marylin Monroe added, “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” 

I try to be my best but falter, make blunders and hope I’m not discarded for them.  I hope I’m appreciated for my usual efforts.  But try as I do, it can be for naught, ignored, even mocked: “I’ve done my best.  Please acknowledge me and understand my intent and effort.”  It can be tossed aside, accused of whining, rejected, belittled. 

Do I wince at such an uncaring response?  Rouse up all the noble efforts deserving thanks or praise?  Do I realize all my efforts were an annoying nothing to another, a joke?  Do I know such reactions are themselves born of partiality, perhaps a narcissistic stance that expects and takes praise and support but can’t or won’t return it? 

We live in a snarky, defensive, attacking time.  It’s a “get you/got you back” culture, each reactively defending a partial self from a greater calling.  The hedonic splendor we could enjoy with each other is lost in the mire of restraint, propriety, defensiveness.  We live with euphemisms protecting us from our passions, our honesty. 

“We only need to be as true to others as we are to ourselves that there may be ground enough for friendship,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. 

Yet what part of ourselves are we being true to, in them or ourselves?  Do we present an economic self, a gender perspective, an ideological view, a romantic yearning, a helpful effort, a reaction, a deep caring for the other?  The Blind Saint advised we listen for the benefit of the speaker.  Should we go with that or what we have to say? 

I’ve given my all (in my experience) only to have it shunted aside, ignored, even insulted.  This thrusts me back on my partiality experienced as if deep and whole, reminding me: to others it is insignificant.  I’m largely irrelevant.  I imagine I matter to others.  Perhaps not. 

I imagine I matter.  Perhaps not.  The Earth is old.  So, what, what I think?  My partiality clings to supposed importance.  It’s there, but only for me, and only for that part, however insignificant, trying to meet another, trying to serve my puny idea of the whole, yet how meager, if experienced as It All.

Who are you in your partiality? Which parts will you live in? How can you be authentically whole as you really are, made of, yet beyond, the parts?


I wrote this on the last day of the month, prior to it coming automatically to your email box. It was a month too varied and busy to hone in on a concise topic. I fell into a personal ring of emotional fire that astonished me. Debonaire, articulate, and principled Harry Belafonte died. The climate continues to get worse, with floods and tornados increasing in frequency and intensity. Militarized police shoot innocents like the young man shot fifty-seven times for protesting Cop City (a training ground for more of this). He was labeled a terrorist. (I wonder if he was still alive after fifty-six bullets, whether the police still feared for their lives, justifying the fifty-seventh.) Women are commanded to be birthing machines, no matter their life situations, even when incested or raped. Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the lies about Vietnam, is dying of inoperable cancer. Julian Assange, who exposed the lies about Iraq, is still in jail, guilty until proven innocent. Biden and the same old war machine continue to push potential larger wars, possibly nuclear, in Ukraine and China.

It’s all too much for a decent entry beyond my comment on being partial. We have to live from ourselves, from one partial aspect or another.

(Being partial in myself and to my times, I languish in lonely, indecisive irrelevancy, adding my commentary in scattered online forums as if more than three or four people cared. I have published such ideas and rants here, but they’re hard for readers to follow. I would send you a 4,513-word file of April’s if you want; just email me with a request. It talks about automobiles and traffic laws relative to the climate, Trump and Jesus, and Christianity and the Bible.)

Byron has been using his writing and public speaking to engage, challenge and inspire audiences for over 40 years. Reverend Carrier's mission is to rescue and revive our earthly Eden, including our human worth and potential. If you enjoy his work, consider supporting him with Patreon.

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Teja
Teja
9 months ago

Dear Byron Bradley, You matter to me! You are not irrelevant, you have contributed so much to goodness and happiness in this world. I’m worried about you saying you are languishing “in lonely, indecisive irrelevancy”…. I hope you can dig deep inside and find your inner mojo again! You are a bright light, a precious being. Kind, sensitive, intelligent, you are. While I get what you’re saying about how we are only partially ourselves, I like to focus on what rays I’m consciously aligning with, and I keep reminding myself of the ways I still contribute. That helps me a… Read more »

Byron
Byron
9 months ago
Reply to  Teja

Thanks, Teja. I’ve had the mojo (like Kramer’s kavorka) but not lately. Multiple versions of inconsequential, yet challenged externally and still driven internally. I started two books and music lessons and have dabbled with vidcasting, but I’m stalled. Not creating jams up as depression. It’s a time of life challenge. Thanks for the appreciation. (I ran into a former student who I had taught at SOU. He told me mine was the best college class, and it helped steer him to a degree. That was surprising welcome news!) Perhaps a creative surge will lead to something worthy. My essay here… Read more »

Teja
Teja
9 months ago
Reply to  Byron

Yes, perhaps a creative surge will come soon, even as you continue to navigate this time of challenges. I wish you many happy moments each day, dear one.

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