Nothing in This World is Harder Than Speaking the Truth

“Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth and nothing is easier than flattery.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

I don’t know about flattery being the easiest thing to say–I’d argue for evasion–but the truth? The truth is near impossible.

Mostly, you just don’t have the nerve to say it. You’re too caught up in fulfilling expectations and becoming your imagined self to risk the vulnerability. Shame and humiliation turn something that was once simple, something possibly understandable, something that ought to be revealed and dealt with into a giant impasse.

And the longer you wait, the easier it becomes to dance around admission. You’re skilled with excuses, white lies, and avoidance. But now it’s snowballed and somehow managed to get even bigger than before. You carry it around with you like an emotional tumor that’s always weighing on you, messing with your thoughts.

If you ever manage to screw your courage to the sticking point and spit it out, maybe because you got tired of the pain or because it was the lesser of two evils, you know the way that the truth catches in your throat, somewhere between your vocal cords and tongue; you know how it’s spoken slowly, haltingly, carefully and then all at once in a deluge of words and fear and shame; you know the scary moment before the other person responds, when you stand naked before them, waiting to see if the world is going to collapse around your feet; and you know the conclusion when the judgement is rendered and you are free to breath in gulps of wonder and relief or be buried under loathing, disappointment, and shame.

The truth can be so painful, like you’re dying while you’re alive, and I think that toying with saying it is the worst sort of emotional sickness to suffer.

In other words, tomorrow is going to be brutish. But I’m ready. Bring it on.

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Ella and the Silly/Serious Dialectic

There are times when I feel very much like eighteen, and then there are times where I feel as young as ever. Take this evening for example.

During dinner we chat about the presidential election, children’s book authors, my lunch with Sadie, and British peerage, and my father remarks that he’s very impressed by how much I’ve matured in the past three years. I thank him and feel slightly smug.

However, five minutes later I’m lying on the floor, teasing the cat with a feather, and trying to imitate how a sick dog would whine. Then, the phone rings, and I take off running to answer it, hunched over, making zooming noises, with my arms out like Superman. I almost immediately trip over the edge of the carpet and smack my chin against a chair. It’s Pippa, and I inform her in an overly giddy voice that I have just sent her seven or so links to Downton Abbey stills, along with a link to several interviews with the cast.

Phone call complete, I go back to discussing regional accents and British architecture with my parents until eleven when I decide to go finish reading The New York Times Sunday Magazine and prepare for bed.

It all feels so seamless, like it’s only natural to go from imitating dogs and dangerously running around like Superman to talking about serious topics, when it reality there’s an incredibly sharp deviation in the level of maturity involved. I like the freedom to be goofy and silly without judgement, but I bet that there will come a day where I don’t feel the impulse to do these sorts antics. When that will come I don’t know, but until then I will probably still be making up songs about the things I have to do and pretending to be on a cooking show when I make my lunch.