For human beings, truth is a shadow. It is the underside of the leaves playing in the light. It is the coals that warm the fire and burn the flesh. It is the path that humours no choice. It is benign and terrible and when it can no longer be contained, it is the earthquake, the tsunami, the hurricane, the bush fire.
Truth, my dears, is elemental.
Honesty, some of us like to say, is the best policy. It is a shared value, as it suits us. Honesty is not the same as truth.
Usually our willingness to be honest depends upon what there is to lose. In reality we can dance with honesty till morning denounces night and darkness returns to claim the light, round and round – but we know, instinctively, that truth is the point of no return.
Honesty is telling your boss you do not enjoy the way he pats your arse in the tearoom. Truth is telling him you can no longer work with him. Either he stops or you go. Honesty flirts with the situation – truth puts it on the table.
Honesty says I don’t like it but . . .
Truth says I am willing to risk all for my integrity. And, ironically, yours.
Women do not tell men the truth. It’s been centuries now, millennia even. We hold our tongues and hide the truth of who we are and where we stand – largely because we’ve forgotten who we are and where we stand. O yes, there are women who rage and spit their fury. Their expression is not a reflection of the words that spill from their mouths, or even truth; it is, rather and always, the madness of their grief. They are telling stories to make sense of their loss, for they know they have lost something . . . they just have no idea what it is. Or was.
We have a contract, men and women, a contract that buys the silence of one in exchange for the manipulation of the other. Most women, the maddening un-mad, sign it the day they arrive through the portal between their mother’s legs. Since the greatest truth-telling exercise in history, the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 20th century, women in the West, and courageous souls dotted elsewhere around the landscape, have made their peace with honesty.
Do not claim, my darlings, to be telling the truth.
Honesty is the emotion of the wounded heart speaking. Truth is the pin-point focus of pure mind, the non-negotiable here, now.
Honesty is malleable, dependent upon time and circumstance. We cannot split hairs with truth.
Honesty is uncomfortable; truth is downright dangerous.
Honesty is a story, a way to define our reality outside of ourselves. Truth is on the inside, the absolute reckoning of self.
Honesty is the child making a courageous stand. Truth is the adult, invincible and vulnerable.
Honesty is gratification; truth has nothing at all to do with what we want.
And that’s the frustrating and confronting thing about truth:
what we want is irrelevant.