Our lives unfold in phases. Every new phase begins when the last phase has ended. During each phase of our lives, we grow our understanding of ourselves and we conquer the fears that used to conquer us. And only when we gained the highest understanding and we conquered our highest fears, we are able to graduate the thing called life. When we fail to grow; when our understanding of the world gets narrower rather than broader; when we succumb to the fears that tremble in our soul we regress into a prior phase. Life is always to be lived going forward, not backward.
On the cusp of one phase onto the next lies the greatest challenge of our lives. When the new day dawns; when the new challenge calls our name; we must answer the call and face our challenges. In these times of uncertainty and doubt, it is very important to receive some guidance that can calm our fears and increase our understanding.
This is a story of a young boy who needed guidance; a story of a boy who wished to make it; a tale of innocent youth that wished to transform himself into something greater. This is a story that is not a story.
Phase 1 – Youth
Knowing what I know now, I can only tell you that I was wisest the moment I was born. Ever since the day of my birth, I learned things, but things didn’t make me wise. They made me more ignorant. Today, I wish to tell you how I arrived at this conclusion. I don’t expect you to trust my words for the story that I will tell you will sound unbelievable. If someone shared the story with me, I would also not have believed it myself.
My story is all I have. If I possessed anything other than a story, I would gladly share it with you. But I don’t have anything else. Since all I have is my story, my only wish is to share it so that others can perhaps learn from it. But I will warn you, you will be wiser if you didn’t read this story. In fact, I am convinced that you were also wisest when you were born. If everything you learned since birth was false wisdom, this story will take away your wisdom and won’t give you any new wisdom.
When I was born I knew nothing. I was born in an average home, with normal parents. But when I was young, I had no idea what is average or normal since I had nothing to compare my family with. My parents and my siblings were everything I knew. Good or bad, they were perfect for me. My parents were the ones that gave me my life, so everything I learned about life in my youth was mostly from my parents. I trusted my parents, for if I didn’t trust them, whom else could I trust? I had no other choice but to trust them.
In my youth, when I knew very little about reality, I learned a lot from my parents. Every child, including myself, is born with a boundless container of why questions. Why is the sky blue? Why is the snow, white? Why? Why? Why? The endless container of questions is filled with the finite content that my parents filled me with. My parents seemed to know everything I wished to know.
Well, almost everything. When my questions got too complex, the answer they typically gave me was “that is how things are. Get over it, Donald.” I had to accept their word for it. And I did. I was just a kid. I didn’t know any better.
When I ran out of why questions, and when my parents ran out of answers, I started asking them how questions? How can I tie my shoes? How can I buy toys? The adults always seem to do better with how questions, since they knew how things are done better than why things are done. So, my loving parents showed me how to do things in the world and I loved them for it.
Later, when I turned seven years old, I started going to school. In school, I also learned why things are done. I had teachers that satiated my desires to know. I learned that a lot of wise men in the past had looked into the darkness, and brought back some light and shared it with the world. My teachers were only the messengers of the light of wisdom that the few wise men had discovered. They were simply passing the light and wisdom that the great discoverers had found. Wisdom was always first discovered, then shared to be finally gained.
By the time I was ten years old, I had learned many answers to many questions and I learned how to do many things. All this appeared to make me wise and knowledgable, but when I look at it now, I was so naive. I did know a few things, but I also didn’t know many other things. The number of things I didn’t know was far greater than anything I knew. So one day, I decided to ask my father Fred one question that would change my life forever. One day I asked my father how to do things that I didn’t yet know how to do. I asked him how he did things he didn’t yet know how to do.
His answer astounded me. My father told me, that I should fake it until I make it. That is what he did. That is what his father did, and his grandfather. It seemed that everyone in my family was faking it until they made it. And made it they did. The made me and gave me my life, so I had to continue the tradition of the family. What other choice did I have? Either I could fake it until I make it, or I would never make it. More than anything I wanted to make it just like my father made it.
That is how “Fake it till you make” it became my new motto in life. Everything I didn’t know how to do, I pretended to know. At first, I was clumsy in pretending, but once I did it for a few years, I started faking it with unseen flawlessness. Initially, I had no confidence in faking it, but once faking it started working, I gained the self-confidence to pretend even better. Faking it surprisingly worked. At school, I pretended that I was richer than I am, and my friends believed it. I pretended that I was smarter than I am, and my teachers fell for it. I pretended to be more confident, and that itself gave me confidence. People are so easy to fool.
I had learned a lot of things in my youth, but the most important lesson that stayed with me forever was the lesson of knowing how to act when I didn’t know how to act. When I didn’t know how to act, I pretended to know and most of the time it worked. When I knew how to do things, well, I did them to the best of my knowledge. But when I didn’t know, I faked knowing and it worked. That was the most important lesson of my youth that I took into my adulthood.
Phase 2 – Adulthood
Once I graduated from university I moved into the adult world. Once I learned everything I was supposed to know as a youth, they called me an adult. Nobody knows the exact time when one crosses from youth into adulthood, but eventually, people stop treating you like a child and they treat you as an adult. The truth is, I never stopped feeling like a child. I felt like a child, but once thrown into a world of grown-ups, I had to pretend that I am one of them. Fake it till you make it was right. I had to fake being an adult.
What does being an adult mean? For most people, it means taking responsibility for their own life. As an adult, you are expected to find a job, start a career, buy a house, start your own family. And since I had to pretend to be an adult, I had to do these things. So, I went to work for my own father, bought my own apartment, and eventually started my own family. I liked being a child better since as I child I could do whatever I wanted with little consequences. Being a grown-up, however, had more consequences. My choices affected the lives of others, and above all, it affected my own life.
Since I wanted the best for myself, as everyone should, I worked hard to get what I want. And when I didn’t know how to get what I want, I pretended to know. Surprisingly, pretending to know worked most of the time. Pretending to know worked better for me when I was an adult than when I was young.
At this point in my life, I got so good at pretending that I wished to become an actor. Since I was so successfully pretending to be an adult, why not pretend to be a pirate or a hero. If I was pretending for free, why not get paid to pretend to be someone who I am not. However, my wish to become an actor didn’t become a reality. I guess I wasn’t good enough at pretending to be somebody else. I was only good at pretending to be myself.
Eventually, I did get on a television show. Not only that, but the show became very successful and I became well known around the world. During the show, I only had to pretend to be myself, which at this point was becoming my second nature. If I am completely honest with you, pretending at this point was becoming my first nature. All I cared about was the image of myself. I didn’t care who I was, but I cared tremendously about who others thought I was. I cared about how others perceived me more than how I perceived myself.
Have you ever told a lie, but then you had to tell the same lie over and over again so you won’t get caught in the lie. Eventually, a few years later of telling the same lie you forgot the difference between the truth and the lie. One day you simply woke up and you started believing your own lies since everyone else believed in them. Worst of all, you convinced them of the truthfulness of your lies. Your lies eventually became your truth.
Well, at this point in my life, everything that was coming out of my mouth was a lie. So one day in my adult life I woke up, and since I have been pretending my whole life to be someone I was not, I forgot who was the real me and who was the fake one. There was no difference between the fake and the real me. Fake it till you make it was the motto of my father, but nobody had thought of applying that motto to their sense of identity. Perhaps I was the first one who had tried and completely succeded in it.
Some people succeeded in faking their resumes, their credentials, their orgasms, but I had succeeded in faking my whole existence. My whole self-constructed identity was a lie.
It is the beliefs of the majority of people that create reality. If the majority of the people believed that the Earth is flat, then the Earth will be flat. I instilled false beliefs into people’s eyes and ears, and they believed it. I lied to newspapers to exaggerate my wealth and made me a billionaire. I pretended to be more successful, which made me even more successful. I wanted to be great and became even greater. I fooled the majority of the people to think that I am great, smart, and wealthy, so I became great, smart, and wealthy.
There was only one downside to fakeness. When you have been fake for too long, you don’t know how to get real again. To be real is the only thing you can’t fake. But once you lose touch of the real for too long, fakeness and pretending is all you have left. I faked my identity for so long, that I completely forgot who I really am.
My fake image and brand were all I had left in the world so I had to embrace my image. Some people say that we are all created in the image of God, but if we get stuck in the image, we eventually lose trace of God. I was completely lost in my own image and forgot my own essence. When all the essence is gone; when the only thing I had left is the shiny veneer; the appearance of success, wealth, and power; I had to do everything to protect my image. I had to protect it at the cost of my life. Without my image, I would become nothing.
The best painters are not the ones who are famous, but rather the ones whose paintings sit idle in someone’s basement, gathering eternal dust. The most famous painters were the ones who were the best salespeople, the ones who were able to sell to the crowds the brilliance of their art. To become famous, I only had to sell the image of my brilliance without real substance. I was a great salesman, and the greatest thing I ever sold to the world was myself. However, the price of my image was the loss of my own essence, the loss of my spirit.
Rather than creating paintings and images, I decided to become a famous salesman. I sold beauty contests, reality tv-shows, steaks, casinos, real estate. I sold many things to the world, but the most priceless thing I ever sold was my own image. An image which I knew wasn’t real. I sold and licensed my image to the world in return for their money. That is how I lived my whole adult life, and somehow I arrived at old age.
Phase 3 – Old age
When I was old, I had everything. I had success, money, women that even the noblest of mortals would envy. But since I acquired everything by pretending, I was unsure if the success and money I gained were real or fake. I had everything, but everything is too little if it is not real. Whatever I wanted in life, I gained it through the timeless advice of my father. Fake it till you make it. And I made it big. Bigger than I ever dreamed. I made it bigly.
I had many things, but I had one last wish that I wished to become real. I wished that someday I would become the president of the United States. The power of the presidency possessed the real power which I never had. And since at this point in my life, I was absolutely extraordinary at pretending, I wished to win the vote of the ordinary people. The ordinary people were real, so if I won their vote, I would gain real and unequivocal success. Only when the real people liked my image, I could become a real boy again.
When I was a child my father read me the story of Pinnochio. In that story, the father created a little boy Pinnochio out of wood and wished that his boy was real. My father created me and gave me the advice to fake it until I made it. I, just like the little Pinnocio went into the world, I lied and cheated with every opportunity I got. But unlike the nose of Pinocchio, the only thing that was increasing in my life was my wealth and success. People could tell when Pinocchio lied, but nobody could call out my lies, not even I.
In my seventies, I ran for president of the United States the only way I knew how; by pretending to be a great savior; pretending that I wished to make America great again; by faking it until I made it. I was not a politician, but I had something that every politician wished to have. Every politician lies and deceives their people. The more successful a politician is, the better they are at their deceptions. Every politician lied until they made it, but at least they had awareness of their lies. Me on the other hand, I have been faking everything my whole life that I lost complete awareness of what was real. I was all fake.
Since I was the greatest liar, I was able to call out the lies of all the others. Only the highest liar knows the lies of the liars’ bellow. I was the highest liar and I could see through the lies of all. People were getting sick of liars, and since I was the only one calling out all the liars, I gained the trust of the majority of the people. People perceived me to be an honest liar. If that is not an oxymoron then you are probably a moron.
As luck would have it, I became the president. Nobody is fully prepared for the office of the presidency since no president goes to school for presidents. Every president stumbles his way into the office and then pretends to be presidential. Pretending was my trademark. I knew how to pretend even when I didn’t know how to pretend. If I could convince half the country that I would be a good president, I wondered what else I can convince them of. Maybe I could convince them that I am a good person? Maybe I can convince everyone that a hurricane will blow if drew it on a map with a sharpie?
The smaller the con, the less effort I had to put in convincing. But the greatest con-men had to put lots of effort into convincing others. At this point, I was faking it so much I had no idea what I was making. I was making a mess out of everything. I was calling everything fake news whether it was fake or real. I didn’t know what is real, so I called everything fake news. Well not everything, the news that was nice to me, I called them real even though I probably knew they were also fake.
How can people be so naive? How can they believe all my lies? I wasn’t sure how I was getting away with everything. If one day I said that the sky is orange, I am sure that some people would have defended the orange sky with their lives, and others would have denied it to their death. Why did nobody want to look at the skies and see the real color of the sky for themselves? Maybe nobody wanted to think for themselves, and everyone wanted to be told what to think. Maybe thinking for oneself is so hard, that people rather wish to be told what to believe. Maybe original thinking leads to truth, and unoriginal thinking leads to lies.
Much like a lightning strike, in a moment of an instance, I was hit by a grain of insight. All this time, my whole life, I was also not thinking for myself since the highest truth which I knew was the motto that my father. Fake it till you make. That was the thought of my father and his fathers’ father. Only God knows who was the first Father that started such lies. I had such a rude awakening, that I could not be put into words. Then I was hit by another realization. And this realization, this insight is the pinnacle of my story. A question popped into my head that was impossible to circumvent anymore.
What if I wasn’t the only one who was faking it until I made it? What if in the history of the world, all fathers told their sons to fake it until they made it. What if everyone was faking everything until they arrived at their desired destination? What if everyone was fake? Maybe other people were also faking it but on a much smaller scale. Maybe they faked knowing how to drive until they learned how to drive. Perhaps they faked knowing how to write stories until the learned how to write stories. What if, for thousands of generations people faked knowing the things they knew so that they could finally say that had learned and know something.
That became the world I lived in. Perhaps that is the world we all live in. A World created out small lies, that grow into larger lies so that eventually we get lost in all our lies and we think our lies are the truth. A world created out of lies, large or small, created my real world. And if you are honest, you will admit that they created your world too. And if lies created the world, is the world real or is it fake?
I wish I could answer that question for you, but then I will be lying to you. And I don’t wish to lie to you anymore. I wish to tell you the truth that I arrived at with my original thinking but then that would be my truth and not yours. You have to apply your thinking to arrive at your truth. Only then your original thinking will lead you to your truth. That is the only way.
Do I blame my father for lying to me? Not at all. If it wasn’t for my father, I would have never become successful, wealthy, and the president of the greatest country in the world. Do I blame the storyteller who told me the story which is not a story? No, since without the story I would have never become real. The path is necessary to arrive at the destination. Lies are necessary to arrive at the truth.
This is not a story. This is an image of a story that hides the essence of the real. That is why I warned you that you shouldn’t read it. That is why I told you were wiser before you were born. But here we are now, you can’t unread the story and you can’t go back to being unborn. I guess the only thing you have left is to disregard all the lessons of your fathers. It is time to forget this story; the story that is not a story. It is time to finally think for yourself and create a world build out of truth, honesty, and selflessness.
So my boy, are you real or are you fake? Are you made of truth or are you made of lies? Are you also lying to others, or are you only lying to yourself?
I was completely lost in my lies, but this is how I found myself. I sincerely hope that one day you find your self too. I hope you will discover the Truth. I hope one day you learn what the real? I hope one day you will discover the Truth.
My boy, you are real. Not a real liar. A real boy!
Image Credits: René Magritte — The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe), 1929, photo: CC BY-NC 2.0 by Thomas Hawk