Truth and Consequences: Burning Bridges to Light Your Way

Spring is a time for cleaning out homes, for sweeping out cobwebs, for removing useless junk from our lives. We applaud each other for taking the initiative to get rid of that which does not allow us to be our best selves when those things are things. We have more difficulty when what we remove from our lives are relationships.

I spent a year in Burma trying to give myself enough space to examine who I was, to hopefully stumble upon my True Self somewhere on the other side of the world. I met people who couldn’t have been more perfect guides in that moment than if a guardian angel had set them there for me.

Extraordinary circumstances bring people together. Dire circumstances, more often then not, drive them apart. Because when things get tough, you start to evaluate where your resources are allocated, and whether that allocation benefits you or belittles you. Dire circumstances test us to the point that we have no choice but to be our most genuine versions of ourselves; in stories, this is usually the climax where the formerly introverted, quiet, shy hero or heroine realizes they have the power to make whatever impact is necessary to resolve the plot. Those cast as villains , then, usually find they have underestimated their opponents, overestimated themselves, or simply act foolishly enough to leave an exposed window of opportunity for themselves to be thwarted in some fashion. People are driven apart, because our base components necessitate that we take on an active role in our own stories, and those generally fragment into a Heroine/Villain, less you fade into the background like some sort of expendable, red-shirted bystander. Heroes need Villains to pave the road with opportunities to be heroic, and Villains need Heroes so they don’t just become dictators. We need to cultivate relationships with one another, not simply have exposure to one another, to truly blossom and succeed.

A relationship is like a rope: it’s strength is dependent on how many layers are entwined together. A rope made from two threads, two relationship components, will be expected to break quickly when tested. A rope given time and effort will last longer, and withstand larger amounts of stress, whether applied suddenly or gradually. It can hold up the weight borne by its creators much more soundly than one simply thrown together for a moments use.

Don’t go climbing if you haven’t checked your supplies. If all the preparation is left to you, you can only blame yourself if your rope snaps and you fall. If one or both parties become lax, their work will reflect that. You won’t be as well prepared when you need that line to hold your weight.

I’m a worrier. I check things several times over when I pack, when I make plans.

I can’t stand shoddy workmanship in planning, nor gaping holes in character motivation and plot development. Nor do I believe that  well developed characters are perfect, but all characters, on this stage and on any page, require some level of ability to recognize that their words and behavior have an effect on others. Even deep-delving biographies have other characters who make appearances, and even protagonists who lock themselves away in a cabin in the woods for years have ongoing relationships: people seek solitude to escape and to meditate, but the process of clearing your mind of all the junk we tote around is a life-long one.

As much as I advocate for finding the relaying the truth, I’ve lost more relationships than I’ve built by being truthful–only selectively, overly, in incorrect amounts, or at the wrong time–than I would like to admit. I am not usually the “Hero” in my story, but when relationships break I do often feel like I would be required to self-identify as a Villain should the relationship have any chance of continuing.

The thought that “truth is subjective” is only partially true: truth is absolute in it’s measure, but can be captured from deceptive angles. Charlatans can tell the truth as well as any saint, and if you closely examine what they’ve said, may find the components of their stories are entirely, “technically” true, but presented from an angle that benefits them more that being straight forward would be.

Truth requires perspective to understand.

Take this man, for example.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we we try for accuracy, we misremember details, both big and small.

Lying is a fascinating addition to the mix. Lying is either knowingly telling falsehoods, or believing your own falsified information to actually be true, thereby creating an alternate reality for yourself. Compulsive liars become so much more comfortable telling lies of all sizes that the truth becomes an uncomfortable burden for them to bear. It changes the story arc for them and for everyone else, but not in the same way. To be successful in their endeavors, compulsive liars, like any other Totalitarian system, require and subservience to the authoritarian power. Behavior that deviates from that (free thought, applications of logic, and/or assessment of information provided, for example) start to significantly ruin the ability for that narrative to continue. By isolating themselves, or surrounding themselves with willing and qualified background characters who have no vested interest in where the story arc leads, Compulsive liars turn themselves into the Editors of their own lives instead of relying on their abilities as protagonists; it doesn’t matter what you actually do, because your own revision allows you the power to say you’ve done whatever you like.

The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to distance yourself from people who are wrongly cast to continue your story’s narrative. True, this works in favor of anyone attempting to be or build their own Fantastically Created island, but inevitably someone will falter, or dismiss themselves, and eventually a faceless extra will gain enough ground in someone elses story that they become a Hero to everyone left. Treating your subjects like puppets isn’t an angle that maintains popularity among the masses, and eventually those people will be ousted from their own story books. It’s ok to burn bridges to keep monsters at bay: this includes both inner and outer antagonists.

We already have many excellent works of both fiction and non-fiction to serve as field guides for when we inevitably encounter this sort of self-righteous flip-flopping behavior. The only way to save yourself is to have the right weapons at hand to fend off this behavior.

As the good Doctor observes…