Monday, September 8, 2008

Ode on a Mac

“Truth is beauty. Beauty is truth.” – John Keats, Ode On a Grecian Urn. I wrote this in my journal when I was about 15. I didn’t get what it meant, but I knew it was important.

Keats was probably referring to universal truths achieved through artistic expression. Those moments of shared connection and clarity are absolutely beautiful.

Most of the time, finding truth while writing happens organically for me. It grows on its own – if I let it. Those four words are my challenge. “If I let it.” So much gets in the way - perception, distraction and ego.

In the search for truth, pathological lying or even white lies aren't the main issue. It's self-deception. There are tons of self-help books dedicated to living authentically. Getting to the beautiful truth, our own and that of others, can be awfully ugly. It's easier to detour into denial.

My subconscious seems to have a larger capacity than my front-load washer. Will all my truth bubble out one day? Will I come clean in a catastrophic manner? I can see my neighbors on the 11 o’clock news saying, “She seemed so nice. I didn't even know she had guns.” For right now, it just emerges in eye twitching, stomachaches, hives and migraines. I'd rather it come out in a novel.

Don't get me wrong. I’m a happy person. I’ve got a good life. The eternal optimist, I think everyone has the best intentions and everything will work out in the end. I rarely cry and it takes a tremendous amount to get me angry. I don’t think these traits are necessarily bad. It’s just that sometimes they get in the way of the truth. Some people are idiots with the worst intentions. It’s OK to cry when someone hurts you and sometimes anger is the right response.

Someone once told me I hide behind diplomacy and politeness. He said I avoid confrontation. I didn’t believe him. But I didn't want to argue - proved his point.

I had shared my thoughts at the loudest decibel as a teenager. But perhaps spending an inordinate amount of time grounded tamed my tongue. I’m not sure.

The problem with denial is that it can easily lead to those white lies and worse. My Aunt recently called lying a subservient act. By not telling the truth we are saying our feelings and thoughts don’t count as much as the person to whom we are lying, she explained.

That’s an interesting take. In sparing someone, we sacrifice ourselves. In deceiving, we receive an inauthentic life in return. It’s saying we don’t trust others to accept or love us as we really are. That's not so beautiful in life or writing. The best prose is raw and honest. If I want to be a good writer, it's time to allow the truth in.


Canary said...

I just dropped by and now i am hooked :) great blog!

susan matthews said...

Canary, Thanks a bunch for visiting my blog. The more the merrier. Yours is great, too.

susan matthews said...

I just read an interesting (and timely to this blog) article titled "Deny Denial" in the August edition of National Geographic Adventure Magazine. In it they warn that denial can impair chances for survival in a crisis. They use the example of a lost hiker who presses on. In denial, he assumes that he'll regain the trail and as a result becomes increasingly lost. (Must be a man). The article advises us to recognize our tendency to see see things not as they are but how we wish them to be. In doing so, we can avoid becoming more lost (or embroiled in any crisis). So living the truth has very practical applications.

Secret Vette Girl said...

Ok SAMMY, I've been giving a lot of thought to this blog topic. And I agree that "living the truth" is the best gift we can give ourselves, even though some days it's easier to live in denial than in truth.

Even though we may trick ourselves into thinking living a lie or being in denial isn't a big deal, our bodies know better. Like the headaches, eye twitches at the most inopportune times, neck stiffness and heart palpitations. Our bodies don't lie.

The fall is a time of new here's to LIVIN' THE TRUTH. And to finding a new boyfriend at the same time :-)