The Stink in Truth

March 31, 2008

Aberrations is an emotional drama that explores a number of themes – parent-child relationships, love, friendship, self-image, mental illness – but at the heart of the story lies an undercurrent about truth.

The frustrating reality is that truth defined as "the actual circumstance" doesn’t always afford us the privilege of knowing exactly what the hell it is. Sometimes life forces us to wonder. And like daydreaming, wondering takes us to places we long to go, normally wouldn’t go, or just plain shouldn’t go. Whether it’s for a day, a month, or years, we may wonder about a situation, a relationship, a road not taken. We ask ourselves what it was all about, why it happened, and if we should have done something different. Then a thousand scenarios run through our heads, sneaking into our dreams and sometimes, into our actions. Sylvia Plath asked, “Is there no way out of the mind?”

The truth can be complex. Like life, there is black, white, and gray to the actual situation. It entails factors beyond our knowledge or circle of influence. And there is that dreaded word perception. Often, we don’t understand the notions dancing in the minds of others, those who inflict life upon us, who somehow wiggle in, shaping truth through the inward thoughts they hide from us. The truth becomes like a woven rug in which we only see the colors we placed onto the loom. The rest is invisible so we imagine what it might look like, what the colors might be. We guess at what would make sense against our own story.

In the end, we never get to see the picture. In this situation, we can choose to hang onto the half there rug on the floor, or we can toss it away with all the others we’ve created over the years. Sometimes, I think that if I keep them all where I can see them, together they'll one day show something meaningful. I can’t bear to stare at the hollow spots though; it’s almost as if they’re teasing me, shouting that I lost or ruined something. I missed an important clue. I failed somehow to see what I should have seen or do what I should have done. I wonder who else thinks this way; surely I’m not the only one. Does the Dalai Lama have such thoughts? How about President Bush, my neighbor, or that stranger I met on the train?

If you don’t care to dissect your life into a million pieces in hope of gaining some hidden truth, if you simply want to believe what you believe, to think what you think, life will be easier … I think. Maybe you just don’t have time for this crap, or perhaps you’ve found a nice little rut to settle into, one that meets your needs just fine. I envy you at times.

But if you’re wired to stew, dissect, and feel a thousand things connected with a million thoughts, enslaved by your pounding imagination – you’re out of luck. Like me, you put on your thinking cap at a young age and it painfully stuck to your head. Maybe you’re the type who over thought multiple choice questions in school, one of the few who actually preferred essay tests because you could spit out information, ideas, and thoughts around a topic as easy as some can clamp their heads around a reasonable answer and walk across all those half-woven rugs without a downward glance.

Are we crazy? I think not since one of the most satisfying elements of fiction is its ability to make sense of life. Life is stranger than fiction. Fiction gives us nice, neat outcomes and explanations while life drags us along, wrapping chains around our hearts and minds. As in Atonement, it would be nice to rewrite our unexplained and unachieved longings into a tale where everyone enjoys the heartfelt justice or redemption they need, deserve, or want.

Perhaps the Dalai Lama sits on a rug somewhere believing that peace is the true path to a free Tibet. Many of us were taught that peace, love, and faith in the greater good will bring us eventual satisfaction, whatever the outcome. We must turn the other cheek and give the cherished coat on our back to our brother despite our own discomfort. Is this true? Or is it simply a theory, a perception, a philosophy that seeks to bond us all together and have us blindly accept discomfort, falsehood, lies and war as the sacrificial lamb for the reality we’re presented. And that the nebulous greater good is worth all that.

If I wrote a story about Tibet, it would have a great ending, one of fortitude, faith, and fantastical good with rainbows, lollipops, and tearful hugs of joy by those who clung to peace. However, many younger Tibetans have a different perception of the way to freedom. The truth for them seems more and more a different weave than that of the Dalai Lama.

So if I were the Dalai Lama and my young cohorts were questioning the truth in my philosophy, one that I myself would die for, what else could I do but hold fast to the one positive message I had to give. That in the end, it all happens for a reason which we may never understand, and in this case, man can only stand upon the weave that has shaped his life thus far, for it’s all he has. Doing so creates a self fulfilling prophecy that peace can bring great things, if only in one man’s shattered heart. How much more can my neighbor, strangers on trains, or President Bush do when faced with some unanswerable conflict in which the real truth will never be understood? In the end, it’s all just an unfinished rug beneath your naked feet. That’s the stink in truth.

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