I find myself coming back to this theme over and over again.
It’s one of those qualities we collectively think of as good, virtuous. We encode it in commandments. We teach our children not to lie. One could argue that civilized society is built on it. “I swear to tell the truth”, “honesty is the best policy” and all that moral jazz.
I tend to think of myself as honest.
Typically we all do.
But perhaps I keep coming back to this because I also feel that in many ways I’m just so fundamentally dishonest.
It’s not that I’d consider myself a “liar”.
I remember there was this guy at school that use to tell grand stories all the time. He went to this exotic place and saw that famous person and this crazy unbelievable thing happened. Again.
It was unbelievable, mostly because a lot of the the time, it was totally not true.
People like this are oddly intriguing. People that casually and habitually lie and make up stories with a straight face just to see what others will believe.
I can barely throw a surprise party.
I crack. I laugh or twitch or just generally betray the fact that I’m trying to sell a story and it doesn’t work. So I basically never try.
I can’t tell those kind of lies generally.
The lies I tell are smaller, but deeper. Woven together into a picture of a happy, functional, responsible adult.
Even when I’m barely holding my shit together.
Again, I think we’re probably all guilty of this to greater or lesser degrees.
It’s the “I’m great” answers to the “how are you?”s. “Quiet but good” to “how was your weekend?”. When you’re not really great, and your weekend was quiet but not actually good.
We all do this, in the same way all kids tell white lies about who ate the last cookie. But there’s a line right? Like eating all the cookies, and all the ice cream and hiding the boxes under our bed and lying about it. Every week. That kid just might have a problem.
But really, what’s the alternative?
Honesty is the best policy but honestly, who needs a side of “I just sobbed in my parked car over the smallest of trivial shit” with their afternoon coffee?
There’s a reason we self censor.
I’m not always honest because sometimes the honest answer is just too dark and twisty.
Which brings me to my other thought tonight.
Why sit and write and post thoughts like these onto the internet?
What kind of twisted narcissism thinks my thoughts need to be scribed into permanence at all, furthermore shared and read?
I don’t really have an answer to that.
Other than the thought that always closely follows; Why bother talk at all? What makes my opinion or passing thought important enough to be voiced and heard at all — whether online or over tea? Why communicate at all, why any of it? Who am I to think anyone needs to hear this?
How narcissistic. Me. Me. Me.
At which point I realize, this isn’t healthy. You can’t just shut down and shut out. It isn’t narcissism to express, to speak, to share.
It’s just what our monkey brains are wired to do. Monkeys. Not self contained rational robots.
We’re social animals.
Somehow, collectively, the sum of our parts are greater than the whole (such a perplexingly wonderful cliche). The very act of communicating does more than transfer information from my head to yours. It does something in me. Through the process.
And so I sit at night at write. Because somehow, in the process, it kind of helps. Corralling these thoughts into some semblance of sense, like putting together the pieces of a jig saw puzzle instead of aimlessly shuffling them around my mind over and over until I throw them at the wall.
Even if it’s only the corner of a picture and I come back tomorrow when the rum has worn off and see it’s all wrong.
But then, why not just tuck these things away in a journal?
Yeah, yeah. Ok. Enough, bad brain, I know your opinion on this.
Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial and I’ve always been able to click “share” or “publish” and launch my thoughts into space for strangers to read. Or maybe it’s because I’ve spent so many late nights reading others’ stories online, scouring the internet for people who were going through the same thing I was, just to gain the sliver of comfort that comes from “me too”.
Perhaps there’s just something in this monkey brain about putting my thoughts out there. Something about the very act of sharing that makes all these abstract thoughts more tangible, more real. Ideas I can wrap my hands around and begin to control, instead of them controlling me.
I think all these things are true. But mostly I think that it’s just somewhere I feel like I can begin to be honest. With strangers, with some friends, or even just with myself.
Honest, in those small ways about the deep things that we’re all so often dishonest about.
Because honesty is a virtue.
Or something like that.
(This post also available on Steemit.com)