Liars Everywhere. And Land Mines.

Lions are growing.

And here’s some Facebook-generated esoterica:

  • Which Greek God am I? Zeus:
  • You are Zeus, the king of the gods. Zeus is a mighty and powerful ruler, who likes to be in charge. He doesn’t let anyone mess with him, or he brings out his thunderbolt.
  • What is the color of my aura? Purple:
  • Your aura is purple. You’re eccentric with your style and do not like to conform. You seek great things and significance in life and are a natural born leader.
  • A Theoretical: Is He Your Soulmate? (more on this later)

Earlier in the day, TiVo offered up an episode of SNL to satisfy Sam’s “FEY, TINA” Wish List. All well and good, but a land mine was planted right in front of the sofa: SNL’s musical guest? Keane. Keane performing “Somewhere Only We Know”. I do not know how it affected Sam; I could not bring myself to do anything but busy myself with nonsense (enter Facebook) until the song played itself out. Still, without realizing the exact point at which I’d begun to sing the song, the land mine made itself known and knocked me out of my minimalist mental context: silent running.

Another land mine, though this one was impotent, a dud which failed its purpose: one of the banished ‘pups’ dared attempt to contact me after repeated demands of no-contact. On my birthday. No surprise. Subject? “It’s too late to apologize” Content? A tragic attempt at grand apologia, only to expose its true purpose: “…Not trying or expecting to make amends or anything, I just would hate to die knowing that I never said I was sorry…”. If you don’t recall my opinion on genuine apology, go read it again. I’m Zeus, remember? I can ordain. An apology isn’t an apology when it’s self-serving. I have a purple aura, remember? I am eccentric, nonconformist. Pursuit of great things by a natural born leader leaves no time for trivialities.

It is a hallmark of each and every ‘pup’ to ignore boundaries and pee on the carpets. Attempts both simplistically obvious and inanely bumbling to turn that Someplace Only We Knew into chew toys and puppy chow for their own base self-absorption I would never permit. Still, I have just now come to realize that only Pavlovian tactics and rolled up newspapers rapping on noses would have been simple enough and would have saved me quite a lot of time.

To this end, and to end this, I’ll ignore boundaries; I’ll impolitely soil the carpetings; I’ll grab my blog, roll it up and make a final attempt at instruction. Here, in all its self-serving glory, is the entire epistle:

From: Justin Green
Subject: “it’s too late to apologize”

But you deserve an apology. I’m sorry I was such a dick to you, and for all of the ways and times I was. Not trying or expecting to make amends or anything, I just would hate to die knowing that I never said I was sorry.

I hope you’re doing well. I broke up with Nathan, I’m back in therapy, and I’m trying to be a better person.

You helped me realize I wasn’t being a very good one. I’m sorry that I hurt you in the process.

Take care of yourself…

Are you uncomfortable reading someone else’s “private” email? You should be because that’s the right reaction. Am I uncomfortable posting a private email? Of course, but I’ll live because it ended it. And Justin has dispatched with a boilerplate ‘sorry’ before his life is over, so he can check that one off his Earl list.

All of this brings me back, by way of seismic contrast, to that Theoretical: the Soul Mate question from a nonsense Facebook “application”. I am single now. Not blessedly so, not by choice, but by necessity, by fiat, by simple fact. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that in life sometimes one just has to feel bad for a while, that in life sometimes conflict is not only healthy, but necessary, that absolution is not earned but merely offered. But often fear and timorousness occlude these simple notions. Some people just don’t have the mettle. The rest don’t have my respect.

I am single. I have no soul mate. I have myself, blessedly incomplete, a soul acting as vessel for universal energy and as drop cloth for bled-out, emotionally poisonous leachate.

But to throw the cosmic dice and create a new opportunity for understanding through unworthy means, I chose Allen as the man to test against as soul mate material. Facebook is a weird place (and yes, I do my part to make it that way).

But that final land mine, the one whose cold purpose delivered merciless violence, was Question 4 in the “Soul Mate” quiz:


How do you see what you two want from life? Life. For him. On the same page, indeed. Wasn’t that easy? For the record, the quiz offered this:

You are perfect soul mates. You balance each other perfectly and are on the same life track. Your personalities are fitting puzzle pieces and he fills your needs and you fill his. You are meant to be.

That’s when the crying and wishing started and wouldn’t stop. Simple answers are the most brutal. Insipid questions don’t deserve truth, but truth’s brutality often obliges anyway.

It seems the fashion, the accepted behavior—more so than ever—that brutal truths are best handled by blanketing them with shallow lies and plausible deniability, by body doubles and clever CGI or other tricks of light. Livable worlds require the creature comfort of being able to suppress and forget and turn away from unpalatable truths.

I was never fashionable, and in the face of Brutal Truths like death the world seems populated ever more with liars. Fashionable, shallow coverups making bad copies of themselves: the world becomes choked with liars who can plausibly deny themselves and their own cowardice.

Eyes opened by Brutal Truths can never be fully closed to them again. And not for not trying, but the inexorable conclusion comes to this: the unclouded eye is best, and courage rises to purpose in times of need.

Liars Everywhere by Toad the Wet Sprocket

here in my mind is a wall i can’t climb

don’t listen now
there are liars everywhere

deep in my heart is a stone i must cut

don’t listen now
there are liars everywhere
liars are everywhere

The Qualified Apology

I grew up in a world without lies.

That is a lie, of course, but the truth in a lie is found in context or in timing or in point of view. Or in my case, to scope.

I may or may not have my facts correct, and as much as it sometimes abhors me, the Past and Past Persons are canonized if you’re on good terms with your own personal history.

That I may have my facts wrong has no bearing on the truth in my own statement “I grew up in a world without lies.” This kind of thing triggers eye-rolling, begs paradox and certainly invites Absolutists—who by the way live with Paradoxes both esoteric and profound—to take Divine Exception to my “obvious” moral relativism. If any of these reactions are yours, best (better?) stop reading here.

Without moderation there can be no extremes. Without lies, no truths. Without mortality, no time. And don’t forget that old chestnut, without Evil, no Good.

It’s easy to swap relative points of view when you’re on a train. Am I moving rapidly past the tunnel wall or is the tunnel wall flying past me?

The point to this talk of truth and the truth to the point I make is that success, idyl, protection and even comfort are just as limiting as failure, duress, menace and pain.

Know only safety and you’ve no skills in defending yourself. Succeed in a given academic and/or career path and you’ve aborted alternative lifepaths. Be only safe and end up without adventure or experience.

Have I convinced you that everything comes in pairs, specifically pairs of notions that live in tension with one another? Couple that with the idea of an exclusively cause-and-effect universe and you’ve got a sort of graph-paper surface on which to live a rational and “normal” life, so it would seem.

But what does truth speak to candor? What does silence lend a lie? In the finitude of my existence, there is no ‘all or nothing’.

Rhetorical nonsense all, but without nonsense, how can there be sense? Hunt through the rhetoric and hope to find dialectic? Paralipsis? A rot13 joke about a monkey with a gun?

Some part of your brain will be scouting for a something in all of this that shapes it to your own understanding. “Reading between the lines”, at the very least.

A lie is not necessarily an untruth, it can merely be a statement contrary to fact. Surely something in you—something very near to that scouting-for-meaning-something, probably—can appreciate the difference, even if your final judgment is equivalence.

Having lived in a world without lies, at first with family in so wonderful an environment that no one should deserve such a thing, then in a world where I chose for myself to exist amidst others who favored, if not truth, at least authenticity. That is how I continued to choose over and over.

My very good friend Mike and I had an extended “such is my life” kind of discussion because we can. Because we’ve known each other for fifteen years. Because we are of similar temperaments. Because we’re from very different upbringings yet our separate conclusions are the same. Well, quite similar.

It is a tragic fact of living that an atmosphere of truth might be burned away by a single lie. Even by a lack of candor. Semantics are important, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. Candor and silence, truth and lie, we try to reconcile conflicts and syncretize the rest. But if we have not experienced deceit we have no defense against it; if our environment lacked in good will, we have no ability to understand its emotional mathematics if we are lucky enough to be situated in its midst.

We resort to intellectualizing it (or ‘winging it’ or ‘shooting from the hip’) because we have no suitable skills, or we rebel against it in a fit of aggressive diffidence to dodge or disrupt or distract.

The lie, the truth, the candor, the reticence, the silence. Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to experience. You can’t think-it-through mistrust and you can’t solve for kindness to a stranger.

Sure, one lie may end an era of trustworthiness, but candor, I’ve found, can be a strong countermeasure, e.g., I have wronged you and so I apologize, volunteer a genuine posture of vulnerability and hope that you can see with your instinct and experience what your intellect has no sensibilities for. This is what I was taught was the true act of apology: the audacity to request forgiveness. The trick is that the wronged must decide to believe and accept.

And how does the earnestly penitent effectively show vulnerability? When I have wronged another and have apologized, I am concerned with making the other feel better, not myself. I admit to my wrongs, directly and without qualification. I make no demands, I make no pleas. I offer restitution, leaving the details to the transgressed. I accept that though I am earnest, the other person may not see it or believe it. I am ready to accept failure and do, if that’s the way it plays out.

Most importantly, I offer no explanations unless asked. My reasons for having wronged have no place in an apology. The situation, the circumstance, the reasons and explanations of my offense have no place and are of no matter, unless they matter to the one to whom I am apologizing.

In accepting someone else’s apology, like everyone else my posture is at first en garde. After all, it’s up to the transgressor to do the work. I look for the same things from him or her that I offer when I apologize.

And just as one lie can collapse an environment of trust and good will, so in an apology can the smallest hint of self-absolution completely invalidate an apology offered to me. Some call this “waiting for the ‘but’”. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I’m sure you can think of multiple times you’ve listened to an apology, an offer, a deal—even a sales pitch!—and waited for the other shoe to drop.

An apology stops being an apology at the first sign of self-interest.

This is the bottom line, the closest I may ever come to a belief in absolutes.

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