‘Now that the Memoir writing is over ... what implications come forward for you? What have you learned about living, loving, aging, writing?’ asks a friend. And I have hesitated to answer. We naturally expect answers to our questions. There is a presumption that a question deserves an answer; nay, more: deserves a truthful answer. But answers are very seldom private. They have a way of becoming translated into new vernaculars, and the slightest of shifts in tone, word usage, em-pha-sis, and interpretation set answers sailing sometimes as though but rudderless ships.
Nothing is complete, except mayhap the moment, and even that much is subject to the limits of one’s own apprehensions. Paradox is; everything is within completeness. Particulars may confuse!
The truth is a singularly private thing. It is completely individual. We have since time immemorial had the wise words and insights of the philosophers and poets and religious purveyors and secular sermonisers bruited about, but still each of us harbours our unique facets of reflected enlightenment, however shaped at the chisel of other’s implications. It is indeed in solitude that one knows the truth. To share it is almost immediately to sow the seeds of the tower of babble, for “yes, but” is the watering phrase by which that silent place in which truth is found becomes a garden of words, words, words, enchanting and distracting and misleading; for does not every garden contain a myriad secret unseen places? And do not the flowers themselves try to outdo each other? Such certainly is Alice in Wonderland’s romp through the garden of possibilities. The more persons one shares one’s stories with, the more careful we might become of truth; it can reek. Details and specifics are like manure to the garden; necessary, but, ugh!
We do not wish to have others know our private lives. If we were utterly unconcerned about real truth we would not care, and truth would be truth. For a child to hear from a Nun that she is ‘going to go to hell’ becomes a truth of its own. It can ride the child for the rest of her life. For an adult to learn that... well, examples abound. And ‘dealing with it’, especially in the face of public opinion, is to have to succumb to the arrows and onslaughts of considerably inconsiderate opinions, or to go find that private place where solitude and complete acceptance of the self may give succour to so seared a soul.
The details for each of us are distinctly unique, yet the generality for each is endemic to our being a collective species. We humans do what we do. But to reveal our individuality is at once to have to be able to face up to the scourge or approbation of others (at either extreme), or at least to have oneself snicker-snacked over. No, real truth is harboured in the aloneness of the self where ‘right’ choices may be made with respect for, protection of, consideration given, and care due to others might best be enacted. To answer my friends’ questions openly and honestly just about me is one thing, but I have/had a partner on this journey, and to reveal my truths is thereby to reveal my privilege to her truths too. That much would be a betrayal. The solution is silence.
And yet, have I not just answered the questions? In the beginning was the word, but added to another, and another, we have been confused ever since! I leave your mind now, with silence, or will we hear the questions’ echoes? Hmm?