Something is up inside me, something which has been brewing for some time now, and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I know it has something to do with the truth. For something that sounds so definite (“The Truth”), it feels very amorphous and vague at times, like when I’m trying to figure out what I want to do or whether or not to say something to someone or what I’m afraid of in a particular situation. At other times, the truth is the most beautiful thing in the world. In fact sometimes it feels like it’s the only thing in the world, as if the world were composed in that moment of nothing but truth.
The expression, “the truth,” seems to convoke the idea that it is about words. I remember hoping at age 7 to be allowed to stay up late to watch Perry Mason at 9pm on Thursday night (I’m not sure if that time/day is actually true but I kind of remember that) so I think the idea of “The Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is steeped fairly deeply in me. In fact, however, the truth is not necessarily about speaking the truth, although that is generally helpful and what I hope to do here, but rather it’s about recognizing, knowing, and living the truth, which is a much deeper, more elusive concept.
Let me throw out an example lying right next to me on my desk: “I love my cat.”True? People often use the word Love overly freely and sometimes very niggardly. So saying it doesn’t mean it’s true. Is it true? How do I know that I love my cat? This one is easy because I can simply feel it – it’s actually a visceral feeling – a welling up of appreciation and joy-laced sweetness in my chest. Funny (or not so funny really) that when it comes to loving other people, there is often much more judgment and conditionality that gets placed between the person loving and the person being loved. Do I love my brother? Can I be pissed off at him and still love him? Can I actually have feelings of hatred and rage for him and still love him? Can I feel pity for him and still love him? Can I have feelings of superiority over him and still love him?
I just discovered something while writing that exploration of love for my brother. When I asked about whether I can have feelings of superiority over him and still love him, love came in. The truth actually made space for the love in my heart. The truth is that I love my brother deeply, and I feel that in my core right now as I type, but without acknowledging the entirety of the other important feelings I have for him that normally get in the way of love, there was no space for love to really emerge.
So there it is, the power of the truth, the real truth. Steve, if you are reading this, the truth is that I am angry with you for the abuse I had to withstand in my life with you, I feel sorry that you didn’t get all the love that I got in our family, that sometimes (actually oftentimes) I feel like I don’t want to reach out to you, because you’ll give nothing in return, I don’t blame you for rejecting dad, but I wish you wouldn’t reject me as well. Under all of that is the true depth of love that I have for you.
My brother actually taught me something important about the truth, as he is someone for whom it is much easier to say what he means than it is for me. Seems he doesn’t really care all that much (or so it appears) how people feel about what he has to say. To tell someone to fuck off is no big thing for him. Some would call it anti-social, but I think there is something miraculous and heart-renderingly sweet about just saying what you feel, assuming that it’s true. Anyway, we were together last year (I think December) with a few of his friends and at some point in the evening when I was refusing to eat raw hot red peppers wrapped in jalapenos (it’s true I’m not that manly) he turned squarely to me and looking me in the eye said, “You know, I don’t even like you that much.” It cracked me up and made me smile. A deep heart-warming smile. It’s the truth. It’s that simple. It is so very much the truth. It’s the unspoken truth between us. It is the truth that very few people ever say. When that truth was revealed, it felt like a barrier had lifted between us. I don’t really like him that much either (there I said it!). With the barrier lifted, there was and is more room for love and appreciation.
So do I love my cat. Yup. Sure, maybe I wish she wouldn’t… (naw there’s really nothing I’d want to change about her). Do I love my brother? Yes. I can say that, I believe because I am willing to acknowledge the remaining truth of the relationship. Without speaking the entirety of the truth, the truth we proclaim is often not really true. Do I love you? There is quite likely all sorts of stuff getting between the reality of that love and this moment. If I’d take the time to really see and acknowledge the complexity of the relationship and see that in the context of a greater whole, then I bet there would be enough room for the immensity of that love that exists right here right now, with you. This may seem a little paradoxical, but I think I’m discovering on this page that acknowledging the conditionality of the love which we feel makes room for the emergence of the unconditional love that is already there. Comments encouraged.