Think not to settle down forever in any truth. Make use of it as a tent in which to pass a summer’s night but build no house of it, or it will be your tomb. When you first have an inkling of its insufficiency and begin to see a dim counter-truth looming up beyond, then weep not, but give thanks. It is time to ‘take-up your bed and walk’.

--A.J. Balfour--

A few days ago, I discovered this quote by A.J. Balfour.
To be honest, I really didn’t understand its profound depths the first time I read the passage. So, I read it again…and again…and again and I’m still not sure I ‘get it’ entirely. But these words have prompted me to really think about our perceptions of reality, historical perspective and truth.

Most of us have heard the adage ‘Truth is stranger than fiction.
The older I get; the more I find this axiom to be absolutely TRUE.

Recently, I’ve been buried in a great deal of fascinating and exciting historical research that substantiates this concept in spades. I have read so many contradictory ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ about the same events or groups (for example…the Templars, the Vikings, Native American Indians, the Freemasons and America’s Founding Fathers) that I’ve come to the point, once again, of redefining my perception and definition of what TRUTH really means. I’ve also become magnetized by the term ‘revisionist history’. As my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. McBride, taught us as a first step in any investigation,

“When in doubt about a word or meaning, go to the Dictionary!”

TRUTH: Conformity to fact or reality; veracity (agreement with actual fact) or honesty; a true statement; fidelity (careful and exact observance; exactness in reproduction); constancy; a spiritual or philosophical verity (the quality of being real).

REVISIONIST: To revise; as in to examine or reexamine and make changes, corrections or to amend. A preference and encouragement of deviation from other theories or accounts of fact or truth.

HISTORY: From the Greek Historia: Learning by inquiry. That branch of knowledge that deals with events that have already taken place; the study or investigation of the past; a narrative of past events; a drama dealing with past events; a story or tale.

As a child growing up and as an over-zealous student with huge pre-programmed blinders firmly in place; I viewed TRUTH as a one-dimensional, black or white sacred stone. If I had been asked to put an image with the word in lower school; inevitably it would have been a towering column or pillar from the Parthenon that could withstand the test of time. In high school, I might have seen truth as the Great Pyramid. At university, it would have looked more like Mt. Everest… I was the intrepid climber; asking myself, “Will I ever reach the summit and really understand what TRUTH is all about!” (Ah, the joys of budding intellectual and philosophical angst).

Then I joined what many referred to as ‘the real world’ and went to ‘work’. I no longer took the time to fully explore the narrowing and treacherous trail that led to TRUTH but I was becoming increasingly bombarded by confusing definitions of what truth actually represented. My sacred stone was morphing into a vaporous, transparent almost invisible mirage; wavering in the explosive contradictions of other people’s truth.

Of course, over the last thirty years, the Great Teacher we call ‘Experience’ gave me a series of seemingly on-going crash courses in survival that might have been named…TRUTH: Does It Really Exist?

For better or worse; I had the privilege of surviving unimaginable treachery; lies in all their slippery guises, deceit, manipulations and betrayals beyond even my wildest imagination. Yes, I call this a PRIVILEGE because I survived the most vicious enemies of my personal TRUTH without being conquered or destroyed.

I have come to appreciate that one of the greatest gifts of this horrific experience was to break through the imposed barriers and once again, as in my youth, question everything. There is a potentially catastrophic downside to this awareness. Age and experience can beget cynicism, rigidity, futility, jealousy, bitterness, an inability to DREAM, loss of HOPE, absence of JOY and deep wells of UNHAPPINESS… which invite DIS-EASE and death; both physical and spiritual. Unfortunately, we seem to allow so much fear to dance around the circle of TRUTH! The wonder of human intelligence is that our free will allows us to make choices and adjust our attitudes.

At this point, I realize how ridiculous it is to try and capture TRUTH in only a few words. It simply isn’t possible. Allow me to reel myself back in to A.J. Balfour’s quote.

TRUTH as a tent.
Somehow this image feels right.
Imagination carries me away…

I see William Shakespeare, on a midsummer night, sitting alone under a beautiful green tent at the beach. The flaps have been tied back, allowing the unseasonably warm sea breezes to touch his face. The ocean roars in his ears. As he looks up at the stars, all is revealed…To thine own self be TRUE.

TRUTH just doesn’t get any better than that.


Anonymous said...

...and this being true to ourself, it shall set us free...yes?

Pattie Mosca said...

Pick up your tent when your truth changes direction...What we hold as our truth today...may change willing and ready to move with it!!!!! I LOVE THIS!