Posts Tagged ‘truth’

I rang the bell.  They keep the doors locked because of thieving opportunists: on more than one occasion the consultants have all been busy with clients, and someone has walked in, helping himself (or herself) to the contents of purses and shelved products.

I heard the buzzer and, just as I was going to open the door,  a smiling woman wearing a Mary Kay badge opened it and held it for me to enter.  I thanked her and we both sat down, while the receptionist said “your consultant will be with you in a moment.”

“Hi there!” said the Mary Kay lady.  “I’m here to showcase cosmetics to the ladies here.  But we have some products for men as well.”  She paused, smiling.  “Also, we’re giving out free hand treatments to everyone, including men.  Would you like one?”

I grinned.  “No, I don’t think so.  Thanks.”

Her eyes sparkled in amusement.  “Yeah, I know how it is with you guys.  Too tough for that kind of thing.”

I nodded.  “Yup.  Check out the freezer bags over there that this place is selling.  A little too flamboyant for guys.   A little too…..*fabulous* too.

She laughed.

She was delightfully unreadable.  And, as it turns out, married too.  Not so delightful, maybe.  Blue eyes, auburn hair, pretty much perfect.  I figured she was perhaps in her late forties.  An amazingly attractive woman.

“So what do you do?”

I answered and reciprocated the question, which she answered.  And then we got into it.

“I meet a lot of people who don’t work out the details of their financial grind.”  She thought for a second.  “Like, you know how it is when you spend all that money getting back and forth to the office and you spend all that money to make yourself presentable, and by the time you’re done, you’ve actually only made a few hundred dollars clear every month.”

I nodded.  She was speaking my language.

“I know what you mean.  You’re feeding The Machine.” The Machine is my favourite descriptor of the whole process.  “You spend money to buy a car and insurance so that you can get to your job so that you can afford the money to make car payments and insurance and gas so that you can get to the office….”

She agreed.  “It’s okay if you love what you’re doing but….you only go around once.”

“Exactly.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve regretted every moment doing something I have no interest in doing.  I know it’s a cliché but – damn it.  Life is too short.”

We sat in silence for a moment.  Then, I posed the question to her that I’d been asking a number of people.

“I’ve been thinking about starting something up.  It occurs to me that I’ll only do well if I create something of my own, which I control.  I’ve realized I can’t really be happy working for someone else.   It has to be something *I* do.

I want to create a place.  A forum.  Or an in-person group of some sort.  The attraction would be that this would be a place where self-aware people could gather, outside of The Machine.  Don’t know whether to call it ‘Missing Spokes’ or ‘Wayward Wheels’ or what.”

I felt the familiar frustration welling up in trying to explain it.  “I don’t even know what the thing looks like, and am hoping for some ideas here.”

Unexplained, because of lack of time, was the fact that in fact I hate most conversations.  I’m too easily bored.  And so, discussions about gossip or everyday stuff – what cute little thing Sally said today – make my eyes cross.   The easily distracted out there (present company included) are just too easily distracted, if you follow.

There are some conversations though which I find thrilling.  Discussions with people who see a little beyond the immediately apparent – like this Mary Kay woman, or like so many commenters on my blogs.  Folk who truly have a story to tell, or a truth to relate.  Meaty stuff that gets the blood boiling, and the thought processes pinging like pinball machines.    I know there’s an appetite for more of this, and there are people who are starving for this kind of compelling company.

Whenever I think of a vehicle to bring us together though – there’s a blank.  I’ve thought about creating a Facebook group, and I think that would be a good first step.  I don’t imagine it could end there though.  Maybe it could be a compilation of areas, like TheBloggess has:  she’s on Twitter, a number of other key sites, plus her own blog site. (P.S. If you haven’t already checked out her blog, do so. )

I believe there is a groundswell of thinkers and lovers of truth, many of whom have been disgusted by the pigeon-holing and demonization of the party politics in the U.S.  People who refuse to adopt common assumptions, preferring instead to examine each issue on its own.  They often refer to themselves as “independents”, and for good reason:  there is no one party which represents all of their values.

I see the same thing in the Christian religious community too: people who have abandoned settings which encourage traditionally immovable white/black dogma, preferring instead to examine thoughts about God on their own.  Seeking to reconcile what their hearts are saying with what logic tells them, and doing self-examination in an attempt to come to a conclusion that might not be church-sanctioned.

“We’re ready for you, sir.”  My consultant stood there, smiling.  I looked at the Mary Kay lady and smiled sadly, disappointed that we couldn’t finish our conversation.

“Nice to meet you”, I said, shaking her hand before turning to follow.   I meant it.

“What if the truth makes me a bad person?”

A girl said that to a guy on a TV show when he asked her what she was really thinking.

Seems the first thing we think of, doesn’t it?  This need to appear as angels to everyone else, often at the expense of what we really think, or want.

This need to be loved, appreciated by everyone we meet, whether we know them or not, or whether they’re worthy of our regard seems ridiculous.  Illogical.

He says “I’m moving this weekend.  You’ll help me, right?”

I had something else planned for that weekend.  I don’t know – maybe I had an out of town trip planned with my girlfriend.   So I say “no, I can’t”.  And he seems disappointed, and maybe puzzled.  He thought we were friends.  In his opinion, I should have immediately said “yes”, because that’s what he thought friendship meant.  That I would put him first when he had need.

(The truth:  of course I can.  But I choose not to, because I’m prioritizing my relationship with my girlfriend.  That’s my true choice.)

Maybe that’s a bad example, but it’s the one I’m going with.

He doesn’t know that my girlfriend and I have been having some problems lately.  He doesn’t know that this weekend getaway was planned so that we could pay attention to each other and no one else, hoping we could work things out.   He doesn’t know that it’s been stressing both of us, and that we really need this time.

Instead, he assumes that I think he’s just not important enough.  And maybe, because of the unfocused illogical guilt I’m feeling,  and this need to stay on the “good” side of his friends list, I second-guess my answer and say “look – I’ve got something planned but maybe I can get out of it and help you out.”   And he sighs in relief.

Happens all the time, doesn’t it?  We’ll self-sabotage in order to “keep the peace” by which we mean “make sure people love us”.   We’ll even sacrifice people we do love in order to make sure someone else doesn’t feel put out by our selfishness.

Women in particular do it all the time.  I know because they tell me.  Not in so many words, mind you, but it’s there.   Their husbands or boyfriends called them a slut (not in a good way) and yelled at them for not coming home on time.  Or they did worse things.   These women have friends who have successful marriages.  Also, they go to church.  They have children.  Also, he apologized afterward, saying that he was too drunk and didn’t mean it.

Seems better to them to give him another chance (chance number 452 but who’s counting).   ‘I didn’t really have a choice” they say.  “I had to stay for the sake of the kids, and our home, and because people look up to us as Christians.”

Maybe I’m wrong – you can tell me – but it seems to me that there’s nothing the least bit dignified about sacrificing your truth because you think that it makes you a “better person”.  Or a “good person”.    You’re not a hero for holding onto that disrespectful or abusive relationship or that job or acceding to the demand for help just because you don’t want to be seen as a “bad person”.   What you are, bluntly, is a pushover.   You’re not a nice guy or nice girl or dependable or any of that other crap.  You’re an emotional doormat.  Doormats aren’t appreciated.  Not really.   What they are, is used.  People wipe their dirty feet on them, knowing they won’t complain.   People don’t even worry about a doormat’s opinion.   A doormat has no real valid opinion anyway.

I’ve seen what happens – I’m sure you have too.   People eventually stop being doormats.   They have no idea how much resentment was building in them, until one day when they finally explode.  When they demand a divorce or they flip out on their friends – and the person on the receiving end of this is surprised all to pieces.  “He’s lost his marbles” they’ll say – because they’re so confused about the origin of the drama.

So many of us aren’t faithful to our truth.  We’ll take care of our bodies, and we’ll take of our kids, and our bills and our spouses or boss or whatever, but we neglect our truth.  It’s the last thing we think of, and we think we’re saints because of it.  Unless we’re making blind people see, or lame people walk, we aren’t saints or heroes.

Being faithful to your truth means telling the truth.  Sometimes silence can convey truth.

A comment from a co-worker such as”I think that guy is a retard” can be met with silence.  Body language and a refusal to verbally comment is a way of telling your truth.

“You’ll back me up on this, right?” can be met with a stare.   Or you can say “no” (which is better) “I won’t.  I think you’re wrong.”

And here’s what I’ve found:  once you start telling your truth, and being faithful to it, people stop asking you for a blind acknowledgement of their nonsense, of their racism or of their cruelty or even of their guilt-driven demands of you.   You exude truth and aren’t afraid to speak it.  They know this, and they’re afraid to ask, knowing you’ll say exactly what you think.   I was actually quite amazed by this.   There have been so many times when I was waiting for a traditional “hey, back me up on this” statement, ready to speak my truth, only to find that the person wasn’t interested.  They knew what I’d say.

“No, Bob.  I’m not going to help you move.”

Feet square, eyes forward, looking right at him when you (or I) say it.   No apology, no explanation, no “I would but” or “I’d like to but I can’t”.  If Bob decides that this means you’re not really his friend, then his standards aren’t yours anyway.   A friend would have asked “if you’re not doing anything, that is”.   At the very least he’ll understand that you choose to help him when you truly want to.  It’s a deliberate choice when you help him – and all that much more appreciated because of it.  You’re not a doormat in that instance.  You’re a balls-to-the-wall standup guy (or woman) who knows what he wants, doesn’t shy away from it, and makes his own decisions on his own terms.

I have found that the more you practice speaking your truth, the easier it gets.  It’s actually addictive.   You might lose some friends.  (I did.)  Then again:  you begin to attract other lovers of truth – after which you can have some amazingly intelligent and thoughtful discussions.

This is not new for many who read this.  Others though might find it hard to imagine, or they might think they don’t have a problem with truth.  Some homework, if you’re interested:

Every day for a week, ask yourself at least once during the day “how am I not being truthful?”   Write it down somewhere.   A week later, take it out and read it.

I think you’ll be surprised.

I’m going to do this too, by the way – because I think even those who think we’re truth-tellers often find that there’s some way in which we’re not being truthful.

If you’ve already gone down this road, let me know how it’s worked out for you.  I’m all ears.  Eyes.  Whatever.   : )

“I DON’T BELIEVE YOU ALVIN!!!”  Teacher barked in clear frustration.  “You’re acting.  Stop it!”

Teacher sat back in his chair, face all red, incensed.   “Bob, sit down.  Let me work with him.”

Bobby quickly made his way to his seat and Teacher stood up at the front of the room and faced Alvin.

“You’re acting”, said Teacher.

“I’m acting” replied Alvin.

“No.  You’re acting.”

“I’m acting” said Alvin, puzzled.

“You need to stop acting”

“I need to stop acting”

Teacher exploded.  “YOU NEED TO STOP ACTING”

Alvin mildly replied “I need to stop acting”

“GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!’  Teacher blasted the words right in his face, spittle flying.

“Get out of my head” replied Alvin, still mild.  Still controlled.

Teacher was anything but controlled.  “GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD!!!”

This acting exercise, of repetition back and forth between the two, went on for some time.  The rest of the students watched the two, entirely rapt, tense.

Teacher was getting angrier by the moment.  His fists clenched, the veins in his neck were bulging.   Alvin remained a shining example of control.


“I need to get the fuck out of your class”

“YES I WANT YOU TO GO, NOW!!” he barked.

‘Yes you want me to go now.” Alvin replied, seemingly obvious to the dangerous rage.


“I….”  Alvin faltered.

One of the students jumped up, walked over to Alvin.  “Dude, the exercise is over.  You need to leave.”

Alvin finally realized the Teacher was serious.  It was apparent to everyone in the class except Alvin that he was not cut out for this work.  He was somehow blocked, and there was no way around it.  He could not express emotion, which was what the exercise was all about.  Teacher sat back down, face still red, while Alvin got his stuff together and made his way out.

I sat there, a little stunned.  My problem was similar to Alvin’s though not so acute.  I’d been able to express true emotion in this class, except for one:  anger.  Every time I tried, Teacher called me on it.  “Stop.  You’re acting.  Stop acting.  Now, try again.”

The difference between a good actor and a bad one is that the good one is telling the truth.  The bad one is lying, but trying to convince that he’s being sincere.

Truth-telling truth-tellers.

It took me a long time to realize what that means, or to find the label to something I knew to be true.

For the longest time I wondered why I was so irritated with phone calls.  Maybe I was being snobby?   That didn’t ring true.  If anything I was more accommodating than the average guy.  Or the average Canadian for that matter.  (And you KNOW Canadians are pretty damned accommodating, often bending over backward to help you out.  It’s not a wild stereotype when I say that many of us will say “sorry” when you step on our foot.)

Yet, when I received a phone call, I couldn’t wait to put the phone down.  What was that about?  It really bothered me.  Some of the people I loved and respected would call, and almost always I couldn’t wait to get off of the phone.  There have been times when I gave serious thought to getting rid of all of the phones in my life.  There’s a phone at my workplace.  Maybe I could make do with that, or with pay phones.

Yet, this revulsion for phone calls wasn’t universal.  There were maybe two people who would brighten my day when they called.  And I knew I could spend hours on the phone with them without giving thought to ending their call.

Finally I realized what it was.


Any guy who’s in a relationship with a woman, will attest to the fact that the lazy practice of apologizing to his woman in order to get back into her good graces (especially when we don’t know what wrong we’ve done) doesn’t work.  Invariable, our women will ask “what are you sorry for, exactly?”    They are looking for specificity.  They want to know that we know exactly what we’ve done wrong, that we recognize it, and will attempt to change our behaviour in the future.

Truth-telling.  They’re interested in our truths, more than our blanket apologies.

Phone calls, or conversations in the office that revolve around trivial stuff might be of interest to some people.  Not to me though.  I could give a rat’s ass about so many trivial things.  I have no interest in polite and pointless discussion.  Pretending interest is the opposite of truth-telling.   For me, it is creative suicide.  Hanging from the patter until dead.

Hence the hated phone calls.  Except for ones received from a few people .   The difference with them?   They delved deep into things.  They were curious, and alive and passionate.  We didn’t talk about the obvious.  Not about the weather (unless it was stormy, and a tree fell down, and an adventure ensued).   Nor about what we ate that day (unless it was monkey brains, and it tasted just like squid, and was delicious, particularly with tartar sauce).

We compared notes on discoveries.  The warp and woof of universal truths.  Things we’d observed – in each other, and in other people.  We were people watchers.  We were empaths.  Anything that threatened to take us down the path of the verbal rut was jettisoned quickly, with relief.

It’s an extension of our takes on life – whether the intent is to grow, to find freedom from expectation, with the ultimate intent of flight.


It removes you from social niceties.  It gives you an appearance of danger.  Truth-tellers are generally not that predictable.   They don’t fit into the expected, the norm.  You don’t know what they’re going to say, or do.   Henry Rollins – truth-teller.  Unpredictable, dangerous.   Clint Eastwood.  Another truth-teller.   I think Bono is one too.

My acting teacher – the one I mentioned at the start of this blog.  He was a definite truth-teller.

I remember one bright shining moment of truth-telling at one of his classes.

It was my turn to get to the front of the class.   Whenever it was our turn, Teacher would pair us up with another student.  The only direction was to say something.  Anything.  And the other guy had to repeat and reflect it back.  The intent was to tap into real emotion.  So we never knew where it would go.  It was exhilarating, exciting and just a little bit scary, because it meant being vulnerable.

This time, Teacher paired me up with…..his girlfriend.

I shook my head, startled.  And then I settled in.

The first thing I noticed was that she was beautiful.   It crossed my mind that if I said my truth, Teacher might not like it.   Teacher was unpredictable, and could switch on real emotion at the drop of a hat.   One real scary dude.   Still, I thought, it’s risky but I have to do it.  I have to be real.  I can’t pretend.

So …..I smiled at her.   Teacher’s girlfriend.   She smiled back.

I gulped, because her smile affected me so much.

She started the exercise.   “You gulped.”

“I gulped” I said, nodding.

“You gulped”, she said, teasing.

“Yes, I gulped” Now I was grinning, from ear to ear.

“You’re happy” she said.

“Yes, I’m happy” I said.

Then before she could reply, I inserted a new phrase.  “You make me feel silly.”

“I make you feel silly”

“Yes” I was smiling so hard I could feel a tear of joy starting at my eyes.  It freaked me out a bit, but I had to let it go. “You make me feel silly”

“I make you feel silly” now she was grinning hard.

We went back and forth for a while, venturing a new phrase now and then, as the passion slowly built.  It took a while.

Eventually, I got to:  “you’re so bright”

“I’m so…..bright?” she asked, a slight frown at her forehead.

I corrected myself.  “Your eyes are so bright”   And so help me God – they really were.  Her eyes were shining.  I can still see them, even now.

“My eyes are bright”  she smiled, hearing the truth.

“Your eyes are bright”

She smiled and said nothing.   Teacher jumped in immediately.  “Continue!”

She cocked her head, and, still smiling, said “you’re messed up”.

Wham.  Truth.

“YES.  I’m completely messed up.”

“You’re completely messed up”

I took the next step.  “You’re messing me up”

Her face gained colour.  “I’m messing you up.”

The room was completely quiet.  Every student was leaning forward on their chairs.  I didn’t look at them, but knew exactly what was going on.  Except for Teacher.  I had no idea what he was doing.  I didn’t even want to think about him.

“Yeah, you’re messing me up.”

“Yes I’m messing you up”.  She smiled so sweetly.  (And when she did that – it *completely* messed me up)

“I want to get close to you”

I heard the class gasp.

She repeated it back, a little more quietly.  “You want to get close to me.”

“I really want to get close to you.”

“You—”   Teacher jumped up, interrupting.  “Wait a minute”

I thought “ok this is it.  He’s putting us out of our misery”  Only, he wasn’t.   He grabbed two chairs and brought them to the front of the room, facing them to each other, only a few inches apart.

“Ok” said Teacher.   “Sit there.  And continue.”

We sat.

I looked closely into her eyes.  We weren’t smiling anymore.

“We’re close to each other”

She said “we’re close to each other”

“So close” I almost breathed the words.

“So close” she murmured.

Back and forth, looking deeply into each other’s eyes.  We repeated and repeated.  It was all truth.

Finally, I whispered “I want to kiss you”

She stayed close, looking deeply into my eyes.  “You want to kiss me.”

“I want to kiss you.”

We stayed there, silent.  And we let the silence take over.  The class was silent.  I’ve never felt such stillness.

And then Teacher stood up and walked over to us.   “Well done.”

I heard the class let go of its breath.  And then they applauded.


There was an emotional after-glow to that truth exercise.   I could tell she felt it, because I saw it in her quick smiles and glances in my direction.  I could still feel my heart pounding too.   Teacher knew it to be truth, and he knew that’s as far as it went.

Once you dive into the ocean of truth-telling, anything less is a rip-off.  A facile and pointless exercise.   A spiritual hotdog when you’re craving a thick juicy peppercorn steak.