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"I don't lie to myself about lying to myself."

In the beginning was a small misrepresentation, a truly SmallThing. Nothing vicious or deliberate, just a little attempt to improve the quality of my story. It exacted a small toll, a tiny tariff, and I moved on. I moved on mindful that I'd need to remember that deviation or risk my story seeming to slip into question in the future. I could over time become inured to even making distinctions between absolute truth and comparative fiction and increasingly trade in legend, like any name-brand product's advertising. Truth seems alluring only in theory. In practice, our stories need heroes and villains, damsels and dragons, disturbing beginnings and reassuring endings, not the unending ambiguity simple truth provides. I too easily justify my immersion, insisting to myself that any version providing a more easily accepted meaning might make even the occasional egregious lie totally acceptable, an improvement over an uninspiring truth.

Every great civilization was founded upon a fundamental lie, a probably deliberate inflation of potential or heritage, similar to the motivational stories each of us told to reassure ourselves that we might actually achieve what we naively aspired for.
We learn to fake it until we make it because we understand that we're unworthy and incapable, needing to prove worthiness and capacity from a starting position of great naïveté. We might dress the part we wish to play long before we ever learn our lines, let alone how to follow stage direction. I start my days by mustering up a hopeful sense of potential, just as if this day might make something of itself before it goes away. So a country's leaders make up a story, largely fictional at first, to muster belief more rooted in faith than fact. A certain religious zealotry might result, one securely insulating the True Believers from any encroaching inconvenient or demoralizing truth. Certain truths become enemies of even the states which so proudly proclaimed themselves more closely related to the fundamental truths of human existence. How could it be otherwise?

Likewise, a BIG idea comes into focus, one holding genuine potential to improve real peoples' lives. To not believe then seems a denial bordering on betrayal. We are called upon (heck, we call upon ourselves) to ignore or deny certain contradictions imbedded within every BIG idea, in favor of a presumed greater good. We might yet derive some essence of truth from this hopefully seeded lie, but we try to deceive ourselves through the worst of it, hoping to make the best of it someday. That's the way progress has always emerged. The most promising possibilities presume some demonstrable fictions in order to come into adequately sharp focus. We don't even want to accept things as they are, and consider this simple acknowledgement a betrayal of our future. We want the way we hope it will be.

Few of us ever graduate to Full Pinocchio Status, though. We keep if not one foot, at least one toe grounded as we weave our deceptive webs. I was thinking about the multitude of ways that I lie to myself, how my exercising might actually erase years or my ever-expanding experience might render me relevant here and in the future, but I could not quite escape acknowledging the fundamental futility of all such notions. I do not live a heroic life, or even a particularly inspiring one, just the one I have. It needs no embellishment, but it does seem to demand some acceptance. It need not make any discernible difference to matter. It need not prove exemplary to prove adequate. It needn't justify itself. I thrive on my self-deceptions. I lie to myself with great grand flourishes and I anticipate eventual ramifications which I will truthfully believe to be unjustified when they arrive. I will not fully reform myself today. The Muse might truthfully insist that my stories suffer from certain embellishments, and I will not be able to credibly deny her simple truth. I'm a Lying lier, though I believe that I'm not a total bastard about it. I don't lie to myself about lying to myself.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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