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The Trouble with Honesty

I used to think all we had to do was be honest with each other, those of us doing this life together.  I didn't know then that it's damn near impossible.  We tango through our shared spaces, trying not to step on each others' toes.  Losing track of who's leading.  Clumsily getting off beat.

Sometimes when we say please pass the salt we mean I need you to hold me.

And sometimes I'll do the dishes comes when we are really trying to say all I want to do is cry.

Or can I have a some jelly beans? becomes go away, mom!

Sure, you can work late substitutes for when are you going to pay attention to meeeeeee?

We fall from our safe spaces.  We may hold in our fear and our pain and our primal screams, landing soundlessly.  We may not notice the bruises our friends and family parade through the living room, so busy are we with being nice.

These swallowed sighs, these polite interludes are not the same as dishonesty.  They're gifts of a sort, or they can be.  We absolve each other of the responsibility of holding space for our every neurosis or insecurity.  We say I can handle this one myself.

But lately I'm wondering if the challenge has more to do with mystery than honesty.  There's a way in which every single person I'm close to becomes more inscrutable the deeper we go.  I puzzle that we are all but unknowable to each other.  How could we be otherwise, when (I'm noticing) that we seem to be unknowable to ourselves as well? 

We move through life as we think we are supposed to be.  Or more to the point, we move through life as we think we really are, but below the surface subterranean rivers of emotion and pattern and pathology carve unseen canyons into our soul's terrain.  We navigate by instinct, without maps.  Occasionally we fall into deep holes we didn't even know were there.  It's hard to tango where the ground shifts beneath our feet.

In the face of uncharted land, honesty seems beside the point.  If we don't even know ourselves how can we blame our dearest ones for failing to understand us?  Instead of honesty, what if we put our emphasis on acceptance, good faith, and trust?

Reader Comments (6)

Beautiful, Corinna. I'm in.
Especially auspicious when good faith and trust and acceptance make a safe place for honesty.
The detail in the picture is so great, and palpable--like you've trusted that fall limb so entirely it might jump to its real life as an alligator!

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

I love reading every word that you write.... "We tango through our shared spaces, trying not to step on each others' toes" so describes how I feel these days......

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

So much wisdom in one post. I'll take acceptance, good faith, and trust.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

Corinna, I have to say that your writing is always amazing but it seems to be on another level of late. This is so good and so insightful; I'm blown away.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher

'It's hard to tango where the ground shifts...'
Your words are so powerful in their insightfulness and raw vulnerable honesty. Such a thoughtful...beautiful post!

October 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcie

I find myself from time to time wanting to know where your inspiration comes from. I'm that way today as I read this and hear alternatively frustration and hope, in only a way you can express it. Wherever it came from, it's beautiful.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLarisa Spillman

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