“Honesty is the rarest wealth anyone can possess, and yet all the honesty in the world ain’t lawful tender for a loaf of bread.” Josh Billings (1815-1885) American humorist and lecturer.

note: If you are seeking the article about “How Naked and Afraid is Like a Nazi Experiment and Why I Faked the Blackout in Brazil,” it is HERE.

This quote says it all. I’ve said my entire life that I am honest to a fault. The problem with honesty is, it makes people uncomfortable or pisses them off. Granted, lies and pretension make ME uncomfortable. To each their own.

Is it really possible to be honest all the time AND liked by everyone? I don’t think so, honestly.

I don’t think it’s possible to be liked by everyone. Period.  Nor do I think it is possible for the average human to be honest.

Think about it. The people who are known for upholding the most dignity are usually…hm, politicians, perhaps? Yet, everyone knows politicians lie. ALL THE TIME. I think most people have a tendency to be dishonest for the sake of self preservation.

My honesty comes out kind of like Tourette Syndrome…and I don’t think that will ever change. At least, I hope not.

I look at my flawed personality and willingness to show it as part of my path. I am not perfect, never have been. Anyone who knows me well knows I know that. But I take my personal honor system very seriously: Honesty. Always. Not perfection. Not pretense. Honesty.

Acting has taught me a lot about this concept, actually. For instance, in method work, we learn to relate the current character and scenario we are playing with something else that makes us feel the way we are portraying. We step into someone else’s shoes for a period of time, but in a way we still relate to. It’s more personal than Meisner’s technique, but also sometimes very wearing.

We can take the lessons we learn from acting and apply them to many different aspects of personal insights. For many, this would be an heightened ability to act in “real” situations, aka, to be dishonest. For others, this could be an heightened ability to perceive differences in personalities or thought processes. I think the best part is purely the temporary moment of opportunity to think as and “be” another person. And, after enough of that, one starts to value the things that makes his or herself unique. If I am not on camera or on a stage, I am still part of a grander play called Life. I am still in this body’s incarnation, playing the part of myself.

So, how does this apply to reality television?

In my case, when I was preparing myself for my initial 21 day challenge in Brazil’s sand dunes, I was living out of a car and trying to put on weight so I could curb the expected weight loss I was about to experience. I was broke. So, you could say I prepped for Brazil by just doing my normal routine at the time: surviving.

I showed up, thinking, “awesome. this is going to be a real experience.” And it was, in many ways. But, when I was told on day 1 that I needed to start calling the magnifying glass I was provided with by production “my dad’s magnifying glass,” things changed.

All of a sudden, this experience was turning into an acting gig. Every time I called the magnifying glass exactly that, I had to repeat what I said but as “my dad’s magnifying glass.” I was being interviewed at least twice a day about my dad’s recent passing. And of course, I was starving. It was like the most extreme method acting anyone could ever experience, because I was being asked to pretend that an inanimate object had a sentimental value to me, and I was being questioned repeatedly about a real sentimental and sorrowful experience that had happened only two months prior.

So I found myself in a real starvation scenario, being filmed for a reality television show, and acting because I was being directed to. Weird.

Even weirder was the fact that of course, like I said, we were starving. We ended up filming the episode about 6 weeks later than originally planned, so the berries weren’t ripe and the coconuts were gone….

My partner and I wondered if they were actually planting coconuts, because to be honest, I think they were.

There was one time when I went for a swim in the lagoon (which was much larger than they ever showed on film) and found a shack. Gold, really. I found a shack that had a perfectly thatched buriti palm roof, complete with pots, pans, a knife, fishing line, garbage bags full of empty food wrappers, an immense pile of empty Campari bottles, and….coconut husks.

Yes, that’s right. The locals had some kind of ownership or rights to this part of the national park, and they would come every weekend and fish and eat the coconuts.

So naturally, I, being low on electrolytes, went dumpster diving. I licked every single chocolate wrapper and potato chip bag clean, complete with all the ant infestations inside them. I examined every single Campari bottle and, if it had a cap and clear, sweet-smelling liquid inside it, drank up what was left.

Oh, it was a good day. I actually swam back with a bunch of tools tied to my waist, but had the entire production team waiting for me on the shore and was told to give it back. But I had eaten some salt, a little sugar, and drank about a shot of Campari. On an empty stomach, that goes a long way, let me tell you. And then I was forbidden to return.

A few days later, well… I couldn’t help myself. Coconut #3 of 5 (2 which were shared with my partner), the coconut that never existed, was found on a swim and it and I returned to “Hobo Island” to enjoy our peace together. Then it started thundering and so we basically were stuck there to wait it out. Imagine my surprise when one of the PAs came trudging through the rain and lightning and waist-deep water to find me there, half way through eating my coconut. Hm, yes….the producer wasn’t too happy with me.

This is something that kind of goes along with the honest but flawed theme. I mean, it’s self preservation. This is the kind of situation that pushes me to be dishonest. I am starving on camera for a reality show and my father’s death is being exploited. What would you do if you found alcohol and potato chip crumbs? I’ll be damned if you say you wouldn’t do the same thing.

Colombia sort of had a similar thing happen….I went on a walk one day and found a medic tent over a mile away from camp. No one was around. What did I find there? A small box of Emergen-C. That is right. Foolishly, I shared these with my partners, of course, and of course they partook of them. Oh well. Lessons learned.

Back to Brazil…so, I’m starving, I’ve found alcohol and managed to dumpster dive in the middle of nowhere. Well, a few days later, my electrolyte levels were so low that I started to lose control of my bladder. I started to kind of piss myself multiple times a day. Muscles were cramping, severe dehydration kicked in….not from any lack of water, just from lack of electrolytes. I had become severely hyponatremic.

And then, one day, I heard my dad’s voice. He said, “I love you, P.” P was my nickname when he was alive.

I remember so well. His voice was in the wind, it was in the sky. He was right there with me. And then, like a child just wanting to be carried and tucked into bed, I closed my eyes, and I laid down.

And I waited.

2 thoughts on ““Honesty is the rarest wealth anyone can possess, and yet all the honesty in the world ain’t lawful tender for a loaf of bread.” Josh Billings (1815-1885) American humorist and lecturer.

  1. Joe

    Very nice.. kind of reminds me of something I wrote a long time ago…

    Le vent

    beyond all the risk
    beyond your wishful fingertips

    beyond our waking eyes
    beyond a hopeless – lost goodbye

    beyond my heartfelt tension
    we’ll find our fourth dimension


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