“The truth will set you free. But not until it’s finished with you”.David Foster Wallace
If it is so that truth is our landing-place, then why not spare some agony and place the inevitability at our beginning?
Mind you, this is not about “the way things are” – but how they are for you.
Where do you stake your claim in the panoply of possibilities?
While truth rests as our ground zero, unfiltered honesty is not invariably the optimal course.
Consider what happens when our stand for truth has triggered fear, righteousness, intrusive or coercive tendencies in a recipient.
As when we cast the unshielded particulars of unpopular positions or choices into a vat of acid – catalyzing more than a few noisome spitting and hissing sounds.
Few among us would wish to invite presumption. Or, to borrow trouble.
Much less, subject ourselves to manipulation by someone who’d use our disclosures against us.
We do not need to spill our secrets into an unwilling receptacle.
As an earlier version of myself, who fibbed her way through a large swath of her youth, I know what I’m talking about.
Discretion and tact are often the better part of valor.
The white lie has its place.
Because Life has a habit of arriving dressed-up for dinner in a paradoxical costume. Neatly-pressed plans mismatched with rumpled conundrum.
There’s no playbook for the game of life. And if there were, we’d wisely cast it aside.
Because the truth is, like mad scientists, we’re experimenting all of the time.
My own first-hand studies have taught me a thing or two.
First, that there’s a difference between “the facts” and integrity.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”Marcus Aurelius
As empaths, it’s instinctive for us to check out ‘the space’ before injecting ourselves into it. Since a receptive capacity for ‘picking up what we’re putting down’ may, or may not, be at hand.
We’ve experienced how startling it is to sow our tender seeds. Only to watch helplessly as they land with a bruising thud onto barren ground.
It’s rarely productive (or respectful) to push the envelope too far with discourse.
And then again, every last detail need not be revealed in order to uphold personal probity.
“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.”Mark Twain
Such liberating counsel. While some might quarrel with Mr. Twain’s choice of wording, few would challenge his intent.
Sometimes a truth comes calling that we’re not yet ready to invite inside for tea.
Case in point from my own relationship archives:
I’d sensed for a while that my partner was having an affair. Finally summoned the bravery to ask about it one afternoon as we shared the drive to our friend’s birthday celebration.
But before I could open my mouth, an emphatic piece of advice popped into my head. The exact wording, remembered to this day: “if you want to enjoy the party, do not ask about that right now”.
My intuition was later confirmed. At a moment when I was prepared to take it in.
“To everything there is a season”.
Perhaps the deepest wisdom centers not only on the truth we tell, but on the way we tell it.
“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret. For I am far surer of what is ‘kind‘ than I am of what is ‘true‘.”Robert Brault
“Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?”Socrates