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"I can see you only through the indistinguishable blemishes in the mirror and on your face."

Nobody ever respects a braggart. Shameless self-promotion seems more an act of shameful self-degradation. The real authority speaks humbly rather than haughtily, seeming to acknowledge that not even she has ever been party to any ultimate truth, and she seems to still be sorting through the odd unreconciled bits. She acknowledges her own fallibility to demonstrate her personal reliability. She might efface herself and thereby amplify her presence. Anyone pounding upon any podium undermines their preaching. The more emphatic, the less truthfully it rings. People will think she insists altogether too dramatically. Big sticks might work as stage props without improving anyone's delivery.

'They' say that what one does when nobody's looking creates integrity. If this statement is true, and it might well be, how, then, could anyone not looking ever come to know another's integrity, not looking being the essential element enabling its emergence and all?
Dare one testify in their own behalf here? Probably not without risking just seeming self-serving or worse, self-promoting. Championing ones self seems the antithesis of integrity rather than the definitive positive affirmer of it. Still, integrity seems to largely exist in the eyes of beholders (who couldn't have been looking) rather than in the story of anyone holding it. How might one expect to confirm its invisible presence? Perhaps through authenticity?

Authenticity isn't a clear glass mirroring any soul, but a pitted surface with some of the silvering shining through, from which a somewhat disconcerting image projects. It's not hardly ever the image anyone expects and hardly the one anyone would willfully project in an attempt to show only their best side. It doesn't hide the blemishes but seems to enhance and feature them instead. The color seems muted almost as if rendered in sepia or tintype black and white. It lacks photographic clarity yet shows something not even mega-pixels could ever capture. It doesn't seem quite true to any you you've ever imagined, yet it somehow more perfectly represents some you that you cannot plausibly deny knowing, and knowing perhaps too well. "Oh Hell," you might be moved to say, "that really is an awfully lot like who I am most days."

Integrity doesn't gussy up all that well. It cringes beneath a starched collar and knotted necktie. It aches to display its shoes-off self and this small truth weasels its way into every interaction. Authentic integrity is gritty inside and out, abrading interfaces. It not only might but most certainly will sometimes offend those with more delicate sensibilities and expectations. Those with that grit apologize frequently without resorting to placating sniveling. They understand that their hips might be a tad too wide to placidly navigate the china shop's aisles, but if they break it, they'll buy it and own it. They won't insist that anyone excuse them for living as a part of any transaction.

Inter-gritty, that's how I tell the presence of that mysterious element nobody can ever witness in action. There's a scratchy surface tension that insists it has not yet been sanded smooth in defensive repetition in fear that someone might notice the imperfect join along the seams. A little stuffing might have started stealing out and nobody's hastily basted the breakage back together again. Integrity is a real, live joy, not a museum piece toy sought by well-heeled collectors. It's never investment-grade, but living hand-to-mouth in an unpromising enclave. It never trades up. It clicks no fingers expecting anyone else to respond to its urgent needs. It's self-sufficient, knowing too well just how insufficient that feels in practice. Integrity, I can see you only through the indistinguishable blemishes in the mirror and on your face.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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