Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why I’m a Liar: Truth, Beauty, and the Coward’s Way

I’m on the cusp of discovering some great truth about myself, about Love and the nature of Truth itself. I’ve become so well-versed in love after years of giving my heart away (too cheaply), years of hiding my heart (too costly), years of fighting the truth by lying, dodging, filing truths away for future use. Part of that is the writer in me—the part that holds back the things I won’t say. I’ve never liked giving it away for free. (I always save the good stuff for you, don’t I?)—but the other part is bullshit. The coward’s way.

Have you ever lied so often that the only way out was to end the relationship? To dig out of all the lies there are two choices: tell it all or leave. You can’t have it both ways. Look at Walter White. Look at Jax Teller. Look at every movie ever made, every sitcom: there’s always a lie and then some more lies. Then the big truth reveal with tears or hugs and false promises. Lessons learned. Dust off your hands, baby, let’s go to bed.

Every time you tell a lie it's like making a knot on a string. Now you want to come clean after a year or ten of making knots. You start one knot at a time. Nimble fingers picking at the string. It takes time, energy, and patience to unknot all the lies. To continue with the simile, you're left with a crimped string, a string that's a map of your mistakes, a map of deceits. So now, how about that fresh start?

Thinking about truths and lies makes me think about pre-teen girls—those vicious, back-stabbing cunts that become secretly vicious, back-stabbing women. Girls lie. We are trained to lie, to hide, to withhold. It’s all in the manual, baby. How many times did I go shopping with my grandmother and she would sneak the shopping bags in the house after grandpa went upstairs? He knew we were shopping. Was she worried about the amount she spent, even though she was always thrifty? Was she trying to avoid his complaint about wasting money? Did she just want something special, something secret for her or for me, something that she didn’t have to share with him? I’m not sure, but we will never know.  Harmless? I think so.

But can I have it both ways? Can lies be both harmless and devastating?   (Aye, there’s the rub. Secrets are never devastating. Telling the truth of those secrets is where the life-crushing enters our play. If only, I could pick a story and stick to it.  Get your story straight, will you?)

If I tell the facts, will the truth somehow save me, save my family, save what’s left of my innocence? I know the truth, but truth, like blame, is a slippery thing. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. There are so many reasons we lie.  There are so many reasons that you can’t handle the truth.

The most basic reason to lie is to hide bad things we’ve done—hiding the facts.  My 4-year old does it. We didn’t teach her to lie. I think lying is a measure of human development—it’s a reaction to understanding rules and the consequences and responsibility attached to those rules.  “Did you eat the candy?” “No, mama.” Lying is how an immature mind protects itself from punishment, from consequences tied to poor choices & actions (i.e., eating the candy.)

The truth has its own consequences, no matter the action/choice that we are hiding. Secrets are a burden on the keeper. The truth is a burden on everyone else.

Telling the truth has consequences of its own. The compulsion to tell the truth can be just as selfish as a lie.  That’s why Catholics go to confession—it’s a way to come clean, to ask for absolution from God and from a stranger (the man behind the screen) without devastating the person wronged, without dealing with the nasty fallout of shit actions. It’s both protective and reductive. Ain’t life grand?

I’m just scratching at the first layer here.

People mistake my bluntness, my directness, for honesty. It’s a huge mistake. I lie. I always have. I like it. I make shit up. I’m a fucking writer. Lying is part of my job. It’s freedom. I can make up the shit I don’t like, be someone else, tell a new story. So be it. I lie to men in bars. I love that dance. Fuck them. Seriously. If you hit on me in a bar, I will lie to you. 100%. Dirtbags do not deserve my truth. 

The longer you know someone, the more reliably you can gauge his/her reactions. You know which truths you can share and, more importantly, how he/she is going to take it. Part of lying is that you don’t want someone to judge you or to make you feel worse than you already feel. Once I know someone well, I lie less, and with certain people, never.  It’s a shitty sliding scale, I’ll admit that, but hey, I’m being honest. (An ode to the unreliable narrator in us all.)

The Truth is an essence. Truth is not a real thing, it’s an ideal, a perfect form—it’s not a “thing” at all. 

All of our moments of candor are subjective, my truth, your truth, how you live your life, how I live mine. It’s like how a single perfume can smell totally different on me than it does on you. I seem honest and brave because I say things that you want to say. I am bold. My truths are so old and so dirty and so dark, you really don’t want to know. Trust me.

By now, you may have guessed that I’m talking about 3 truths;
1. Truth: an ideal of perfect Truth—think Plato’s theory of Universals/Forms.
2. truth: facts, unadorned by emotion or subjective commentary.  
3. truth: honesty, candor, sincerity, devotion.

None of these truths will set you free. That is the biggest lie ever told. Freedom is not knowing Truth. The truth enslaves you to the responsibilities of that knowledge. I cannot buy chicken at Wal-Mart. I don’t care how poor we are, we will not eat chicken from WallyWorld. I have seen the truth about how those animals are treated, the pain, violence, anger, fear, disregard for life, disgusting, vile, putrid conditions of chicken factories. There is no freedom in that truth. Ignorance is bliss. I can’t ignore that I know now about the chickens. I do. The cat’s out of the bag. (forgive me.) The burden of knowing this means that I have to make a choice. Now it’s on me. To buy and eat that convenient garbage or to make another choice—find a better, less nasty chicken, to stop eating meat, to protest for animal rights, etc.

At the end of this long, long day, the truth is that I don’t want to do the work. To unknot the string and make the world right, to tell the truth now, would be a huge undertaking. I don’t have it in me. Maybe another time.

My armchair philosophy is exhausted. 

To thine own self be true. That's exactly what I'm doing. And maybe your own truth is the only one that matters.

Tell the truth and tell it fast.

No comments:

Post a Comment