Friday, April 04, 2008

Remaining True

“In the space between yes and no, there’s a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and the one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it’s the legroom for the lies you’ll tell yourself in the future.”

Change of Heart
Jodi Picoult

I found this paragraph intriguing. Right up until the very last line, I was reading it in a positive light rather than as a lesson in self-deception.

I really don’t want that “legroom” for lying to myself – now or in the future.

Realistically? I suspect I do lie to myself. I suspect we all do to some extent. We rationalize our behaviour in order to live with ourselves - in order to live with the poor decisions and mistakes we’ve made. But we don’t think of this as lying. We are justifying our behaviour and choices.

I’d rather believe I’m striving to become that person I always thought I could be - while at the same time realistically accepting (and loving) who I really am right now.

But to do so means facing the truth about myself – no lies. That’s a very tall order – and a tough one.

Is it possible? Can any of us actually do this?

At the very least, I can question the “stories” I’ve told myself. In fact, I’ve already uncovered some whoppers this past year. And even as I’m coming to terms with those, I suspect I’ll still be guilty of more in the future. I just don’t plan on giving them very much “legroom.”


Sherry/Cherie said...

That's an excellent quote with much to think over...and I agree with you...we do tell lies to ourselves and we call that justification. I think there are times when that's a good thing, but times when it can be bad (i.e. for those with serious harmful addictions). It really comes down to being true to yourself and living the best life you can.

Legroom? I think she's talking about "wiggle room" which for me, means allowing a little space to move things around in my mind, not really take advantage of myself.

Excellent post to jog my rain soaked brain this Friday morning Beth!

traveler one said...

Could the legroom also be considered 'kindness'? I think it's important to be kind to ourselves too and not to be too harsh and critical. Maybe instead of investigating our stories we should simply let them go.

VE said...

I don't tolerate lying to myself. I always make him take a lie detector test...

Shari said...

I have to think that over. Do I lie to myself? I am very hard on myself. Lots of times I dewll on mistakes and kick myself (Stupid, stupid, stuipid) then I have to remember to shake it off. It's over. Let it go.

Maybe legroom is forgiving yourself? Laughing at yourself?

I guess I do lie to myself about certain things I can't change/accept.

I liked that paragraph. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Eileen said...

Wow, I love that quote. It really has me thinking. Do we really lie to ourselves or are we looking at ourselves based on what is going on in our lives at that time. It is so easy to look back, when circumstances/life situations have changes and think our perceptions at the time were wrong. I think at the time, it may have been what was true at the time. Perceptions of ourself change all the time....Unless it is something like Sherry said, addictions or harmful behaviors. I try to really look at the past as lessons, and hope that I am being as true to myself without compromising who I really am. That is when I get myself in trouble or get upset with myself.

That song from that says, "there's only now, there's only this, forget regret or life is ours to miss. No other road, no other way, no day but today." Something like that, I mixed the words up, cause it's friday and my brain if fried, but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say. A bit Rent obsessed in this house, since that is all my daughter plays, but the words stick with me.
Something to think about, for sure.

Trish said...

Ohh that's a tricky one. . .i think what is being said in this quote is not 'lies' per se but more the selective memories that we all have.

I think that flat out truth telling is overrated, sterile - we would be robots if all we ever did was tell 'truth' - it is just not possible for us to remember enough facts to be able to do this.

Beth said...

To All:

Wonderful responses - got me thinking. For sure, I will be kind to myself, minimize regret and recognize how time and circumstances change my perceptions.
Still, with the choices I make in life (moral or otherwise) I don't ever want to lose sight of that person I think I "could be" or the person I hope I am.

(and ve - perhaps a lie detector would come in handy!)

Beth said...

wow...very thought provoking....I lie to myself all the time. Sad, but do I stop that?

oreneta said...

I wish there was some easy way to note the lies we tell ourselves...some softening of the edges seems necessary though.

Mrs. G. said...

I think it is so important to have a couple of people who you can be completely honest with (warts and all...just to know that there a couple of people who truly know who are or, even more important, just to know you feel completely known. Not very well put, but I know you will understand. I used to worry when in my twenties (and so invested in being a good girl to all people)that I would die without anyone knowing the real me. I don't worry about that anymore, but I have lost a few friends in the process. At this point in my life I am more interested in quality and not quantity.

Todd Camplin said...

I live without yes and without no

Angela said...

The idea of personal mythology completely intrigues me -- the stories (could be lies or not) we tell ourselves to help us make sense of our worlds. But oh, my, have I been questioning A LOT lately -- determined to tell the truth to the best of my ability and drop any insincerity or hint of dishonesty that threatens to give me the easy way out. Thanks so much for posting this. It's helped remind me that I'm on the right track!

Psychgrad said...

Interesting post Beth. If I think concretely about it, it's like asking, will you admit that you often look like the worst photograph of yourself? I don't know if I want to believe that.

I think a certain amount of lieing to yourself helps you to avoid living in the past. Unless, I suppose, you admit the truth and can come to terms with it. But, the truth is subjective too. We're usually our own worst enemies.

I'll have to spend some time thinking about what legroom refers to and how much of it I want to give to myself.