EDITING A LIFE


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Many years ago, after my friend, Voice of Reason read my book of poems, he said to me, “ I was a little embarrassed, it was like looking at you naked.”

Truth, it’s almost become an abstraction of the truth. Where did it go? Does it fade with age, or get reshaped by our life experiences?  If everyone is lying, then why not join up?  I was never a convincing liar. Yes I can stumble through incendiary confrontations, like you have to when, you’re attacked for a simple mistake, filling out applications, balancing money, returning items. I am talking about the truth in relationships, your art or business.  It’s tempting to reinvent the truth.  That is why it is one of the  Ten Commandments.

I could write about the last road trip to San Diego, and the little sign that said Jack Ass Acres, or about all the new gangster movies, or what I’ve observed happening in the interior world of people I’ve met.  The truth is, that one of my foremost characteristics is truth, and that is what speeds up the pen when I am writing, and talking, because I like to dig out the top soil and get to the roots.  Here goes.

Since my lover left, in a hurry, practically skidded out the driveway, back in January,  mornings and evenings feel like thunder storms in my heart. These are the moments that keep infringing on my perception. It’s like being crippled emotionally, leaning on the old crutches of what he did wrong, what I did wrong, what the world did wrong.  Answers percolate, but they never satisfy the gap between the truth and my imagination.  So, as any hot blooded Russian Irish woman would do, after five months of reclusive living, I got very angry, cynical, anxious, depressed, offensive, impatient, and talked myself out of the gift of life.

In this precarious state of mind, the tiniest disappointment inflates the size of a monster, and the big disappointments, just send me back to TCM to Robert Mitchum week.  As it happened, the big billboard answer came on a lovely breezy night, sitting on the portal of Geronimo, with White Zen and Rudy. My cynics and sharp-tongued wit drew a lot of laughter, and my company appreciated the humor, but I was reminded of something, that wasn’t funny, it was frightening.

I was imitating those women, whom I met, every Thanksgiving when Dad pulled me into a be dazzling party scene at the home of his attorney. Every year there was this one woman who sat at the bar and mixed life’s lessons with the worst elements of human behavior. She was the queen of cynicism, and at the time, I was keenly observing of her, and sympathetic, painfully attached to understanding what she was so angry about.  I had not been hurt yet.

The final siren of my digression came while Rudy and I were driving out to San Diego. Somewhere along Highway 17, the fields turned into rows of Saguaro Cactus.  They didn’t look like Cactus; I perceived them as hands, flipping me off! I turned to Rudy and said, “You know my head is not working properly.”

Landing in San Diego meant I would meet with my GP at Scripps Clinic for the routine round.   The visit lasted longer, I told her, that my real sickness was mental.  She took a serious interest in my babbling, and emptying out the garbage I’d held back for so long.  No, I have not been on any joy pills, or anxiety pills, or anything, so when she suggested a prescription to add, serotonin to my brain, I accepted her advice.

“Do you see a lot of patients with these symptoms?

“Eighty percent of my clients come in for anxiety and depression. You’re not alone.”

Today is day three of pills, and the roses are waving at me. My motor is running smoother, and    I am not         angry. This is an arguable confession, because I used to sneer at pill poppers for corrective behavior. Psychotherapy was instrumental in my life at one time, and I will use it again when I meet the right therapist.

Truth, about facing what we need to edit and revise cannot be shaded or ignored. If we’re not honest with ourselves, why should we be with others?

It is a day later, and while I was reading the WSJ online, I landed on this article; Why We Lie? Dan Ariely

“We tend to think that people are either honest or dishonest. In the age of Bernie Madoff and Mark McGwire, James Frey and John Edwards, we like to believe that most people are virtuous, but a few bad apples spoil the bunch. If this were true, society might easily remedy its problems with cheating and dishonesty. Human-resources departments could screen for cheaters when hiring. Dishonest financial advisers or building contractors could be flagged quickly and shunned. Cheaters in sports and other arenas would be easy to spot before they rose to the tops of their professions.

But that is not how dishonesty works. Over the past decade or so, my colleagues and I have taken a close look at why people cheat, using a variety of experiments and looking at a panoply of unique data sets—from insurance claims to employment histories to the treatment records of doctors and dentists. What we have found, in a nutshell: Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats—just by a little. Except for a few outliers at the top and bottom, the behavior of almost everyone is driven by two opposing motivations. On the one hand, we want to benefit from cheating and get as much money and glory as possible; on the other hand, we want to view ourselves as honest, honorable people. Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society. “

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