I have an injured wrist. I am not exactly sure what exactly caused it, but I believe it’s from over use and was compounded by tripping and catching myself on my wrist. I have been saying it’s a stress fracture, because I honestly believe that’s what it is – a weakness in the bone and joint. When someone asked me if the doctor wrapped it and gave me good meds … I paused. I was tempted to say, “Yeah, but you know I don’t like taking pills and the wrap drove me insane.” I mean, that is most likely what would have happened had I actually gone to the doctor, but I didn’t. I self diagnosed a stress fracture and am self treating it with rest and modifications and Ibuprofen. In the blink of an eye, however, I nearly told a lie. I didn’t, I did tell the truth that I hadn’t seen a doctor, but I almost did lie about it. And I have absolutely no idea why.
When I was a kid, I lied all the time. I lied to get out of school, out of trouble, out of homework, out of housework. As I grew, I lied about other things. When I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I lied about getting contacts. My best friend had recently gotten them and I was so jealous I couldn’t see straight, so I spent a couple of days trying to make it through school without my glasses and looking like a fool until I was outed and I had to put them back on in shame. Then when I was 13, I lied about sneaking out of my house in the middle of the night to hang out with some kids. I never did that, but I said I did because I was living in a brand new town and wanted to make people think I was making friends and fitting in and having the time of my life, when really, I was sad and lonely and missed my former town and school and friends. I lied about other things, too: where I got my clothes, what music I listened to, etc. In high school, I once earned my entire Latin class extra credit on a test because I correctly guessed which song Don Henley played to open his most recent concert (the magister was a HUGE Eagles nut.) I guessed correctly (“Dirty Money”, by the way) and said I had been there. Total lie. I hadn’t been there – I just was lucky, I guess. I lied all the time about little things like that – sometimes (although not often) about big things. I never really thought about it— until someone I loved lied about a really big thing that changed my life forever. I was never the same. I felt betrayed, hurt … I felt lied to! And that pissed me off like nothing ever had before or, frankly, ever has since. I have been conscious of my words and actions every moment of every day since then and, while it would be a lie to say I never lie, I do it so rarely now it’s hard for me to remember the last time I actually told an untruth knowingly.
An odd thing happens when you decide to consciously live in, and tell, the truth: you start to be able to sniff a lie out a million miles away. At least I can and, I have to say, I’m amazed at how many people lie and what people choose to lie about. Just like I used to do, most people lie about piddly stupid things that don’t matter anyway! “I don’t color my hair!” “Oh yeah, I read that book, too.” etc. It makes me angry. It’s one thing to lie like that when you’re a child, but as adults, it’s just stupid. No one cares if you color your hair, if your shoes cost $20 or $200, if you’re reading a book for the first or the 40th time, if you can touch your toes or your nose, if you weigh 120 or 150 pounds. No one cares! You aren’t impressing us. In fact, by lying about those things, you’re cheating us out of knowing the real you.
But maybe we tell lies about ourselves because we don’t really know ourselves? Or like ourselves? Because we don’t think we are good enough, smart enough, thin enough, social enough, pretty enough, strong enough, brave enough, enough enough? Maybe all of the above. And lying isn’t just about what you say, it’s also about what you do! I caught myself holding my stomach in today in the shower! I mean, COME ON! It was like I was trying to hide from / lie to myself! Not good – and certainly not the life I want to be living.
2.36 As truthfulness (satya) is achieved, the fruits of actions naturally result according to the will of the Yogi.
(satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam)
Satya encompasses not only our words, but our thoughts and our actions. If we think we are better than someone else, we are judging. That judgement separates us from other people, but also from our true self which is the same as the true self of everyone else in the world. If we do things that we are not yet ready or capable of doing, for instance a complicated yoga posture, we are harming ourselves not only physically, but also by pulling ourselves off our own rightful path. When we tell someone a lie about ourselves (what we do, what we think, what we feel, what we know,) we are depriving them of the joy of truly knowing us and we are denying ourselves the gift of true intimacy with another person. And… if you hold in your stomach while you’re alone in the shower, ahem, you’re cheating yourself out of loving and accepting yourself exactly as you are.
The truth will set you free, so they say. I believe it.
And just so we’re clear: Yes, I color my hair. Yes, I do wear contacts. No, I do not have a flat stomach. Yes, I can touch my toes and my nose and my nose to my toes. No, I didn’t go to the doctor. Yes, I play one on tv. No, I don’t.
Whew! I feel better already!