Monday, August 15, 2011

Life as a Study in Fiction

I rarely tell the truth.  The Whole Truth. The Nothing But the Truth. The So Help Me God.
It isn't that I intend to lie, but if asked a simple yes or no question, I'm liable to spend a very long time trying to figure out which answer is correct.  At some point I'll give up and give the response that I suspect most closely aligns with what I'm being asked, but that's not precisely the same as telling the truth.
When you ask me what happened, I'm going to edit the story. I'll make myself sound less skittish and shy, and whomever I'm dealing with sound a little more the way I wanted them to sound. Details will be omitted for concision and others because I don't like them.
I may well say "I don't recall," when I mean "I don't like the answer."
I may also say that I don't remember when I lack the detail necessary to fully explain or simply do not want to explain the complexities of how something was imparted.
It's not personal.  I'm not trying to lie to you.
Truth, as it is experienced, is subjective, and as it is told, is selective.
We all edit things, and will call a good number of things by general terms which do not truthfully describe for the sake of brevity.  We all want to sound a little better in our tales of youthful misadventure.
I don't think it's lying, I think it's editing, and being human.
Yes, I tell my kids there is a Santa Claus. Am I lying to them?  I don't think so. There IS a Santa. There's one at the mall, another at the park, another down the street, yet another in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are all sorts of Santas.  There's the Santa I am when I wrap gifts and put them under the tree. There's the Santa my friends were the year we couldn't afford Christmas and they surprised us with gifts for the kids.  So my truth might not be the pure truth, but I'm still telling them there's a Santa with a clean conscience.
Truth is subjective.
I also think that it reflects the way in which memory is subjective and selective.
Sometimes I watch police dramas and wonder how witnesses  can recount conversations of which they do not possess a transcript. Was that really what was said? Precisely. Of course not.
So no, if you're looking for truth-as-it-happened, you'll have to keep looking, and I don't know where you're going to find it.
If you're looking for approximations of the truth, edited, hopefully with a light and generally honest hand, then we'll get along just fine.

How about you. Does anything other than the purest of truth cross your lips, your fingertips?

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