I told a lie to an old lady today. It was a reasonable untruth. She suffers from dementia. She asked me if I would drive her into the city. I said that I would but only after she had first eaten a hearty dinner and had a good night’s sleep. We would go in the morning I said. By then she will have forgotten that she made the request.
I told her a white lie because it was easier than convincing her that she didn’t need to travel. It calmed her. Lying as an opiate: isn’t that always the way? It was the best thing to do. The geriatric psychology books and the experts said so. I wonder if they were lying.
I lied to myself earlier today when I planned on repairing my car. It was a momentary self-deception. The intention was there but the desire was not. I made up excuses to avoid the problem because I did not want to deal with the underlying truth of the matter: That being that I simply no longer care about that vehicle and that I want to let it go just like so much of my past and the lies I have told myself for holding on to that past.
I went into a store today. The cashier was friendly. The customer ahead of me in line was not. The customer was aggressive. The cashier told the customer she was sorry. It wasn’t hard to see that she didn’t feel sorry at all. I wonder if she told herself that it was worth doing a job where she had to put up with people engaged in their own struggles for hope and ultimately lying to themselves by claiming self-importance that deep down, they know to be untrue. Or perhaps I saw what I wanted to see. Sought the answers I wanted from questions where the honest answer is simpler and less profound and much more profane. The answer being that no one knows why they exist so they lie to themselves and to each other to create meaning. The truth is a wound. Lying is the salve.
A friend told me she was fine even though she was hurting. I think she told me otherwise because she didn’t want me to worry. I think she wanted to believe that everything was fine and that everything would work out in the end. I told her that it would though that was a lie. A kind lie but an untruth. No one can guarantee that things will get better.
I told her things about her that I believe though she does not. I was honest then but not completely. I held back on the whole truth because I was lying to myself when I pretended to be brave though I am terrified of the feelings she provokes. So I held back on truth so the lie became a shield over my wary heart and from the knowledge that she had revived something inside me that I had long believed dead: The capacity for hope and the capacity to truly care for someone else. Lying is easier than caring. It’s easier than courage.
We lie to ourselves to stay in the prisons we build for ourselves and for others. We lie to protect those who keep us prisoner. We lie in the belief that we are acting in the best interests of others. We lie to ourselves to protect those around us from the darkness we all carry: A darkness that is itself a vapid liar without substance but whose dishonest words paralyze us.
And so dear reader how much of this is my truth and how much of it is yours?
Where do your lies end and mine begin?
I will never tell you. Some truths are simply too difficult to share.