It has recently come to my attention that I, very frequently, do not tell the truth. My statistics, from what I can tell, place me at about 60% truth-speaking, and 40% bending my words into falsified shapes. One could read this data in such a way as to suggest that: I am very frequently a liar.
Is withholding the truth the same as lying? That’s what I do. I don’t say it. Whatever it is. There are so many dirty little truths, which I feel compelled to hide away like disabled children would have been in a previous generation. They are very much alive but we just don’t mention them. This has come as a real shock to me, as I always considered myself to be pretty outspoken and more in touch with my emotions than most. I generally don’t think about what I’m saying before I speak, or at least I didn’t think I did. Somehow in the last week or so I have realized how much exists inside of me that I am not saying. I suddenly found the place where I stash all of my unspoken thoughts. You know those dreams where you discover that there is an extra room in your apartment that you never noticed? It was like that, but instead of being given a magical gift of empty square footage, the room was packed tight with things that I ignore.
It would be fun if the realizations hidden in my brain were something scandalous, like a desire for a sex change operation or a long lost twin sister. The things that I haven’t been saying are much smaller and less fabulous. I am noticing them mostly because I all of a sudden feel able to say them. Here is an example: yesterday my girlfriend was cooking soup and she asked me to watch the pot. I got absorbed in talking to a friend, and I didn’t watch the pot. When my girlfriend came back in the room, she said, “Have you been watching the pot?” My standard impulse to that question would have been something like, “Ohh, the pot! Oh, yeah, sorry, here,” at which point I would run over to the pot, with my shoulders kind of hunched over, “look, the soup is okay, yeah, I had it on my mind!” Yesterday it went as follows. Girlfriend: “Have you been watching the pot?” Me: “Ha ha, no!! I totally forgot!”
Now that I think about it, I remember being inspired about the prospect of truth-telling several months ago, while I was watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. The gay boys on the show have this way of speaking harsh truths in an awfully direct and jovial manner. It kind of seems like they show respect by being as lucid as possible about their observations of each other. Maybe, by telling someone the truth as you see it most plainly, you are conveying that you believe they are strong enough to take it. I don’t mean that I want to go around being a mouthy asshole and saying every last thing that I think. But there are moments when telling a friend that I am getting tired of listening to them talk at length about their yoga practice could actually be the best and bravest thing to do. And I think sometimes that they are bored of talking about their yoga as well, and sitting there lonely and wondering if I am ever going to call them on it. The trick with the truth, I believe, lies in the delivery. If you can deliver it straight up, no barbs, with confidence, it can be a way to bring someone closer to you.
A last note about saying what I think instead of bottling it up: it seems to be resulting in a change in the quality of my everyday state of being. At the risk of sounding like a hippy, when I more frequently say what I find to be true, I feel like I am more here. If my body were a line drawing, I find that more parts of me have the sensation of being colored in and shaded with a three dimensional effect. I feel less like I am looking at myself from the outside, and more like I am looking through myself at whatever surrounds me. I like it. Yesterday, as what appears to be a reward for entering this new frontier, while I was sitting at my desk an entire song came sliding out of my mouth. It arrived slowly, and I listened word by word as each one arrived, trying to determine if they were true enough to be given a chance at being a real song that gets recorded and heard by others. The words hung in the air for hours and I kept very still, watching them, to see if they would survive. I believe they might have. I feel shy but excited when I sing them, and that seems like a good sign.