I had a penpal when I was in sixth grade. My penpal was from the Midwest. I wrote that I had five brothers and we lived on a farm. We had horses and cows and chickens. The truth was that I had one sister and lived in an ordinary house in Great Neck, New York. It might have been farmland at one time but when I lived there it was stately suburbia.
It was wrong to lie. If you, my dear penpal are reading this, please accept my apology. I’m sorry I don’t remember your name. Yet the experience taught me that the world of my imagination was far more creative and interesting than the standard version of reality.
On her blog today, Betsy Lerner writes about reading between the lines to find the lies. Or the make-believe. The pretend. And then the truth behind that. Is fiction a masked confession? And is confession sometimes fiction? (As in the famous case of James Frey‘s A Million Little Pieces.)
I lied as a child because my life seemed boring. And I often lied rather than face people’s wrath. But lying served its purpose because it opened the door to a new way of seeing, and that, in turn, opened the door to a new way of being. I realized along the way that I didn’t have to follow the script that had been given to me. I could choose a new way to be. In a way, you could say that lying bought me freedom.
Now I choose to be honest. Are there exceptions to the rule? Are there times when you find you still need to lie? And what have you learned? Is the truth over-rated?
Sometimes a lie can open the door to a new way of being.