Early morning, coffee in my hand. Sun breaking the horizon. My trusty dog sitting at my feet, counting the hours until he gets to eat the same meal he had for dinner and breakfast the day before. The house is silent, Really silent. No cars on the street, the birds are sleeping deeply in their nests on a frosty morning. My slippers are on, my robe is tied tightly around my waist. This is the holy hour, before the world stirs. Before the cattle begrudgingly awaken and complain about their upcoming day, lack of sleep, unhappy marriage, sketchy co-workers or their disengaged children.
I take a sip from my coffee. I stare at the screen in front of me, the blink of the curser waiting for me to type something. To share my thoughts. To write. I wonder to myself quietly “Do I have the right to share my thoughts?” Have I learned enough to share what I think. I type two words…
The damn curser flashes. It’s wanting more. It’s not satisfied with the effort. What do I remember. What is it I am trying to say?
I sat in the car alone. There were no other travellers around me. The officer escorted me from the car into a small room told me to sit in the corner.
“We are going to search your vehicle.”
It’s a rental, there’s nothing in it. What’s happening. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong. I just wanted to help. I should of just told the truth. I wanted…
That’s not it. That’s not where I want to take this. I take a sip of coffee and hold the delete key down.
I am back to the same point again.
I was 8 or maybe 9. It was a typical unexciting family dinner. Rouladen, a german dish of wrapped beef filled with pickles, onions and mustard. Not a 9 years old’s favourite. There wasn’t a discussion about other menu options. You ate what was in front of you. I pushed the meat around my plate like an uninterested city worker shovelling sand into an already full pot hole. Somewhere between the chewing and struggled swallows food flew past my eyes. Then my brother made some sort of stupid comment. I was grabbed by the back of my shirt and tossed to the corner of the kitchen.
“Hit him! If you want to show your a big man, hit him!” My father screamed at my brother.
Is that honestly what my dad wanted my brother to do?
My mom jumped up and covered me like the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter. Hoping to God that I could really disappear. Go away. Never be seen again.
The disbelief in my nine year old mind was overflowing. This is what dinner was in my household. This was a tuesday or a wednesday. This is why…
I can’t begin this way. I need to start when it all became clear, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. This time I just highlight it all and hit delete. It’s quicker.
The ripple that I felt for weeks. The pain that ripped through my heart. My wife had left a year earlier, the following year I discovered that my good friend had been having an affair with her. I had found out that this had taken place through his wife, not mine. There was other revelations as well. Some that would change lots of peoples lives. Forever.
I spent a week in disbelief. I couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t trying to answer any specific questions. Just the ones that hurt.
As I walked through the door, the smell of freshly ground coffee in the Starbucks filled me with a sense of familiarity that warmed me. The smile from that Barista that I had seen so many times before reflected on my face. I ordered my Chai and proceeded to wander the book store attached to the coffee shop. Maybe a good “self help” book would be able to answer my questions and give me some perspective, some peace. I found it. There in the discount bin it was. A small grey paperweight. One quote.
“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything”
A simple quote from Mark Twain written in 1894. Almost 120 years ago. I picked it up. 75% off. So it was about $2.50. I held it in my hand. It was like a lightning rod of reality. My life had been made up of lies. Made up of moments that weren’t real. Had we as a society discounted honesty so much that we took seventy five percent off it’s value? Had I?
I’m not sure if this is the starting point either.
I open a new page. I type two words on the page.
It’s what the book is about. It’s about the lies that should have been truths, the stories that were just that stories. It’s the struggle we all face. The lies we tell others to protect them or to avoid them. It’s the dishonesty that we show to our co-workers or to our family. It’s the lie you tell yourself when you can’t face the truth. It’s a story. One of fact and one of fiction.
My father was a compulsive liar. Dishonest and un-trust worthy. He told me stories of adventure that never happened. He was like Albert Finney in the movie Big Fish. How many stories were true and how many were lies. Have we discounted the value of honesty to the point it’s 75% off? Do some of us feel a need to share our story on facebook to make others feel less or jealous? Do some people no longer care enough to worry about the ripple that comes from a lie or what they say?
I’m not sure. I’m not sure why I am writing this book. I think it’s therapy.
If I learned anything at 21 it was how silly I was at 11 and how mature I had become. If I learned anything at 31 it was that I was so very naive at 21 and really learned what I now wanted in life. If I learned anything at 41 it’s that I didn’t realize how much I had yet to learn at 31 and how I missed the wisdom of the 11 year old. If I am learning anything today it’s that I honestly have so much more growth to embrace.
That’s the truth.