Sunday, March 15, 2009

The truths I hold as self-evident, might not be!

Looks like the daffodil on the right is whispering a secret to the one on the left.

Yesterday during a walk in the rain, it came to me that the idea of truth (always something I struggle with, at least the idea of an absolute, irrefutable truth) is perhaps never useful. I'm contemplating the idea that every one of my truths is nothing more than a story I've told myself so often, I can't imagine any other scenario. The groove of a story, told and retold, becomes engraved in my neural network. Next thing you know? I'm calling my story "the truth." I think this is one of the foundational strategies in advertising.

It's not unusual for my "truths" - even those that I've told myself a million times - to become completely "untrue," sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, sometimes in the blink of an eye. In the midst of a heated discussion, a good friend will say just the perfect thing, articulated just so. That exchange sparks a revolution among my synapses that peels away a layer of world view, revealing a previously unseen "reality." Has that ever happened to you?

At other times my truths are undone by study and reading. Sometimes all I have to do is get really quiet and listen to the small voice of wisdom I don't usually hear in the midst my noisy, busy, distracting life. The value of a long walk in the rain can not be overstated.

In an instant, a new vision of the world can arise. If there is such a thing as "the truth," how can it be unwound so quickly, so completely? I've always thought of truth as being some kind of eternal reality. But that's just a story, too.


deborah said...

And which we choose
to hold
as truth
is almost always fascinating to me

This post is the most articulate
statement of my belief/experience
of truth as a single human

If there is 'a truth'
it can only be a G-d truth
for some things
a Hubble truth

everything else
has a human lens
is only true
for each of us

Butternut Squash said...

I was writing about truth and wisdom yesterday. It must be in the air.

My husband is a pathological truth teller with a photographic memory. It's still hard for me to get used to. Imagine someone constantly pointing out that your memories aren't exactly right.

It works well for him though, he's a psychologist.

Reya Mellicker said...

Almost anyone's memory is better than mine, Butternut!

Larry said...

Truth is always a variable, and I'm always suspicious of anyone who claims to have it "nailed". They usually have a religious or ideological agenda.

As humans we have an impulse to fasten onto one "truth" or another. I think it's conducive to mental health to keep our options open.

And wisdom... it's one of those hard-to-define things -- but you tend know when you have encountered it!

Evening Light Writer said...

I used to say that I was on a quest for truth and beauty. I tried to capture their essence in my poems and other writings.

I realized that those two things are so subjective. What I see as beautiful now I would have never given a second glance to three years ago.

Now I see truth esepecially, as personal truths that are subject to change. Maybe truth isn't a good word but it is the best I have for what I understand now.

tut-tut said...

Hmm. Nice juxtaposition of pictures and weighty thoughts. Truth as reality?

analogman said...

I, like you Reya, thought my truths to be absolute until I began to take a more world view of things. My truth can be someone else's absolute falsehood.

I was baptised a Methodist. When I was 13 years old, I held one set of truths given to me by the church. I now believe these to be nothing remotely related to my truth.

ELW, I'm with you. Everyone's truths are subjective. That's what makes our world so complicated. What we need in this world is not for any one truth to be forced on others, but for an understanding that no truth is absolute. Live and let live.

Observation (and memory recall) and belief systems are two disparate things. Each may feel absolute to some. But different people will remember the same observed event differently according to, and influenced by, individual belief systems and mental processes, so they are still subjective.

Without a change in what is believed to be true, evolution as a species is not possible...but that's a debate on another set of truths, isn't it?

Reya, yet another great post!

smith kaich jones said...

Ahhh . . . but while believing what is truth may change, what really is truth stays the same. We must remember that our thoughts are nothing more - they are not the truth. Someone else's thoughts are also nothing more. We must not confuse the two. Very thought-provoking post on this lazy Sunday. Thank you!


analogman said...

Debi, yes we all were speaking of the mental truths, not the one spiritual truth. But because of the ego and mental trappings, even this is academically debatable for some. ;-)

runmotman said...

i have really been struggling with the 'truth' lately you comment, how can there be so many truths? and how can everybody be right? At times i feel very gullible, constantly being sucked in by what someone else claims to be the truth. I guess it is important to be open minded, but where does faith come into the picture?

California Girl said...

I think truth is much like depends on your POV.

Chris Wolf said...

Wikipedia can't agree on a definition of truth either. It said, "Meanings for the word truth extend from honesty, good faith, and sincerity in general, to agreement with fact or reality in particular.[1] The term has no single definition about which a majority of professional philosophers and scholars agree".... Pete Seeger once said, "Truth is like a rabbit in a bramble bush. Everyone circles around it pointing, 'it's over there', 'it's right here', and they're all right, but no one can catch it."

JOY said...

Good point. I agree that truth is elusive, up to a person's subjectivity that is always changing like the clouds that pass and evaporate, new forms appearing to take their place. Our stories try to hold truth in place.

Truth is whispered from daffodil to daffodil in a silent language while beauty is bestowed on the eyes.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Ah yes. One of the common examples is "I can't live without you," but off he or she goes, leaving you behind. And much to your credit and surprise, life goes on. And so you have to create a new story. Maybe not one with any more "truth," but one that rings true for a time.

analogman said...

Even beauty is perceived by the mind through the lens of the eye.

Religion is usually what you're told is truth. Faith in a belief is usually what you feel is truth and can mean many things to different people. I think these two are often confused.

What smith kaich jones (above comment) may be alluding to is the one universal truth...that what we think is not what we are. We are part of the One Source of all things.

If anyone is interested there are many books that attempt to illuminate this. "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle explain this concept better than I.

Just one man's opinion, mind you (pun intended).

Delwyn said...

I often think back to your 'revisionist history' and truth is a little like that. We are constantly reshaping it.

Using your latest metaphors of costume and personas we could say that we cloak THE TRUTH in our own array of garments and call it our truth.

Merle Sneed said...

Reya, you've hit on something.

The reason that eyewitness testimony is so unreliable is that we make a judgment about what we think happened and our mind fills in the appropriate details to confirm it. It becomes our truth.

When me hold what we think to be the truth, we are always looking for things to confirm it and dismissing evidence to the contrary.

SJW said...

Hi Reya
I have been a stop/start blogger these last six months and have frequently seen The Gold Puppy mentioned on other blogs.

At last I've managed to stop by and read a bit.

Like everything I've seen so far - especially the daff photos.

Andrea said...

How wise you are! My truths are often undone by time. If I wait long enough, every truth will change it's appearance.

ArtSparker said...

You might enjoy the Wallace Stevens poem, "On the Road Home"

I like those daffodils.

Reya Mellicker said...

Art Sparker I LOVE seeing your face!

And I love anything by Wallace Stevens. Thank you!

Reya Mellicker said...

On the Road Home
by Wallace Stevens

It was when I said,
"There is no such thing as the truth,"
That the grapes seemed fatter.
The fox ran out of his hole.

You. . . You said,
"There are many truths,
But they are not parts of a truth."
Then the tree, at night, began to change,

Smoking through green and smoking blue.
We were two figures in a wood.
We said we stood alone.

It was when I said,
"Words are not forms of a single word.
In the sum of the parts, there are only the parts. The world must be measured by eye";

It was when you said,
"The idols have seen lots of poverty,
Snakes and gold and lice,
But not the truth";

It was at that time, that the silence was largest And longest, the night was roundest,
The fragments of the autumn warmest,
Closest and strongest.

Ronda Laveen said...

Truth, like time, seems to be relative to the observer.

Amy said...

Ah, truth! A tricky one. It's taken up a lot of room in my brain.

I have four sisters. We all grew up in the same home with the same parents. When we're all together, we all have slightly different versions of the same story. Which one is the "true" one?!

Our perception of reality, IS our reality, it is our truth.

So, how can we ever say that there is one truth, one way, one path?!

Yay, Reya!

Mrsupole said...

What is the truth?

Your truth, my truth, their truth, who's truth.

Where is the truth?

Over here, over there, somewhere is the truth.

Why the truth?

For you, for me, for them, for all of us.

When is there truth?

When we need it, when we want it, when we see it, when we hear it, when we feel it.

Truth is elusive, truth is unreal! There is no such thing as truth!

Mrsupole said...

PS...the daffodils whispering are just wonderful...spring is in the air. Oh yes, just wonderful.

karen said...

Great post, and wonderful poem further down in the comments, too. As for the daffodils, they are absolutely spectacular!!!

Tessa said...

Interesting post, but like California Girl, I think 'truth' is based on one's own perception or point of view. It is a nebulous concept.

Barbara Martin said...

The photos of the daffodils are lovely and bright. I wish the flowers were blooming here, too.

Funny, today I was dealing in truth and not being answered truthfully by others.

Lynne said...

Since everyone else has already explored all the depth of this post, I'll just comment on the photos. ;)

I am SO jealous! Our daffodils are barely breaking ground. You already have so much color with spring flowers/flowering trees. Yikes, we are so far behind you. I am tired of looking out at blah.

hele said...

i think truth likes to play hide and seek.

Lover of Life said...

The re-telling over and over was how the previous administration kept convincing some of their lies. Rove's strategy was just to keep repeating it over and over. It does work.

Adrianne said...

Re that bottom photo: the flowers to the left may have been whispering to one another, but that one on the right was talking to *you*! Beautiful.

Reya and Merle exchanges also are beautiful, always, especially when you two agree. I have missed being in the blogosphere these last few weeks!