I seek out – by choice – what is untrue,
For a great many fictions exist – in this world
– And few strands of verity.
. . . perhaps everything you’ve confided in me
up until now is a lie. (I refuse
to indulge that possibility.)
In my heart
You will never diminish.
There once was a Contradiction that did not get along with a single other soul. In conversation (in the rare instance someone engaged him) he would always gainsay. If asked to hurry he would slow down and vice-versa as well. When told he looked happy (a rarer occurrence) he would begin to weep. When asked why his tears did flow he would only laugh for an answer.
Well, one day the Contradiction came face to face with as beautiful a sight as he’d ever before encountered, a Compromise, and at once he found himself smitten with her. He asked her to a night of dinner and dancing, and to his great delight she said yes. To his chagrin, however, that first date went very badly for the both of them. Nevertheless, at the end of the night she agreed to see him a second time. He kissed her as much out of gratitude as anything.
Their second date as it happened did not go any better. Their third and fourth dates, the same. Yet to the surprise of all who knew them, the two became largely inseparable. Everywhere the Contradiction went, Compromise could surely be found at his side. No one upon observing the two of them could say how they managed to make their relationship work, but it did and in spades. “Perhaps fate does work in mysterious ways” was the closest to consensus that was brought to bear in opinion of them. The Contradiction offered his own explanation to puzzled inquisitors: “She stands by me. No one else does.”
And so, despite the often intense conflicts and a variety of other issues between them, he was moved to propose marriage to her, and she agreed to be his wife. For months after, the two planned the wedding (never agreeing on any detail of course.) However, he found himself doing the previously unthinkable, deferring to her preferences on nearly every aspect of the ceremony, for as he declared to anyone willing to listen: “If there is one day that should be all about the bride, it is her wedding day.” And so it was.
When that blessed day arrived, the matrimonial hall filled with family, friends and other dear acquaintances (mostly of the bride’s.) There was much conjecture amongst the guests about the couple’s future especially as to whether marriage might soften the disposition of the Contradiction. He, himself, seemed far more gregarious than ever though no less apt to gainsay.
Perhaps fate also had it that all good things should end, for soon a nervous energy began to permeate the hall along with rumors that something had gone terribly wrong. This sentiment was confirmed when the mother of the bride, a dour look upon her, whispered something into the ear of the Contradiction and both strode purposefully to the bride’s dressing room. There instead of finding his fiancé, the Contradiction was shown a note she’d left upon the dressing table. It read:
My beloved Contradiction,
I feel indescribably awful about what I must do. I have come to realize that, as much as I care for you, our love is not enough of a foundation for me to build my life upon. My heart leads me toward another path, and I must follow though I do not know where it shall take me. I believe it best for the both us even though it surely will not seem that way to you now. Know that I am convinced you will find someone whose love for you surpasses even mine. This I truly believe.
I will miss you terribly.
He read her goodbye letter again and again without once looking away, and afterward following a few minutes of deep contemplation, he simply crumpled up the paper it was written upon and tossed it (not at all gently) back at the dressing table. Then he walked out from the hall without a single word for anyone. He drove straight from there to his home, and upon passing through his front door, he slammed it shut and proceeded to shed the formal clothes of the groomsman he no longer was, leaving them unceremoniously strewn across the floor. When finally unclothed, he cast himself into his bed, blankets tossed haphazardly over himself, and stayed there for most of the duration of what would have been his honeymoon. During that time he got a number of phone calls, emails, and knocks at his door, all from those concerned for his mental and spiritual state. When he deigned to engage them on this or any other subject at all, he answered them the same way. “Rubbish,” he said, “Just rubbish.” And he continued to do so until people finally refrained from asking after him.
-Start with an imperfect idea, ripe with infinite potential.
-Feature characters, flawed, expressively unique and on the verge of overwhelming their individual spheres of influence.
-Add meticulous word choices, rough on the edges but fluid within, sprung from their own peculiar reasoning.
-Commas are largely optional.
-Bridge even the abrupt gaps with chaotic contemplatives.
-Emotion stirring, quaking, falling like tears, echoing through laughter, ethereal, permeating every notion . . .
I couldn’t let it go
That dream, that beautiful dream
My life incomplete if I awakened . . .
Fear of failure.
Fear of failure.
Fear of failure.
(I can’t emphasize this enough.)
We rarely need a reason to act: most of what we do requires no justification, but in general we try to determine one anyway. For instance, why choose chocolate ice cream over vanilla? This is a purely impulsive decision based on an unconscious preference with no rational basis whatsoever. However, people will go to great lengths to justify their preference, to the point of creating intricate yet meaningless standards of taste in doing so.
Perhaps stranger are the self-deceiving rationales, justifications that stay only within our own minds. We may indulge in a bowl of ice cream, alone without witness, and tell ourselves that, hey, maybe we shouldn’t have eaten it, but we just felt like treating ourselves to something decadent. Why do this? We know deep down that we acted purely on impulse, yet we feel compelled to formulate a reasonable explanation for our behavior nonetheless. What value is deception when the truth is already fully known?
If nothing else, this may explain our profound fascination with fiction and storytelling. There seems to be some kind of deep resonance with, some great need fulfilled by building internal worlds and myths we can explore whether through the narratives and images created by others or our own imagination. Is the rational mind primarily a storyteller?
And what does this say for truth? As a writer, I like to believe that within my fictions lie the power to expand perception, to create space where greater truths may emerge; that within every myth is a spiritual truth; every story, a beating heart. However, what if fiction is merely an end in and of itself?
Am I then deceiving myself in thinking that I am seeking truth?