Vinita Dawra Nangia
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
Its life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all…
(Joni Mitchell, Love Actually)
How many times have you heard people say, “Oh I know my husband so well, he just wouldn’t do this!” or, “I know her through and through; she’s my daughter after all!” Famous last words. Don’t ever believe them!
You can live with someone an entire lifetime and yet not know everything about them. We know only what another may wish to reveal or what actions and words give away. And that holds true of even those closest to us.
Believing in my salad days that loving is telling all and knowing all, I would be frustrated if loved ones chose to keep away certain things or even at the hint of a falsehood. I would consider it a betrayal to keep even stray thoughts secret. Being painfully honest was almost a religion. Why should there be any secrets between lovers – loving is to be naked with each other in every respect.
And yet, we all remember Tess d’Urberville’s instant fall from love and life after her confession to Angel of a prior sexual encounter. And this, after Hardy’s heroine has forgiven her husband of a few hours, all his trespasses! What value truth?
Life is a great teacher and we all grow up to know better. Revealing the simple truth isn’t possible because there’s nothing simple about truth. Revealing your self entirely to another is impossible because there are multiple dimensions to your personality just as there are multiple dimensions of the same reality, looked at from different perspectives. There’s a generous you and there’s a mean you; you are honest as well as dishonest; creative as well as destructive; calm as well as chaotic. It all depends on the time of the day or who you are interacting with. Were you to reveal all these selves to another, would they not consider you a fit case for multiple personality disorder? And yet, you know you are fine with the way you are because an amalgamation of all these characteristics makes you, YOU -- the entity!
Revealing the entire truth is not even an option because truth, far from being just a binary representation of life, is contextual and multidimensional. Can anybody but Eva Braun understand the Hitler she loved, lived for and died with? And yet, that Hitler was her reality, while the rest of the world’s reality was a totally different man! "I’ve always said that I shan’t go on living if anything happens to you. You know that my whole life is loving you," she wrote to the man hated by the entire world!
Being truthful to one another is a complex expression because you are just revealing an aspect of yourself which is true and there are many other aspects. And so, when there is a truth and a falsehood in everything, your reality is the end of the stick you happen to latch on to.
Don’t we all know people who bring out different perspectives and evoke varied reactions from us? Some make you feel on top of the world; some bring out the worst in you; with some you go all quiet, while others bring out the talker within you. Some leave you stone cold, while others get you red hot!
They say there’s a sacred space that each of us keeps locked deep within us. The world sees what you choose to reveal. And isn’t that a blessing? Imagine your soul laid out bare for all to see, every thought, every emotion, every idea that flits through you. What a horrifying thought! Today, far from insisting on revealing all, I wouldn’t want to peep into another’s sacred space either! Call it loss of innocence or a part of growing up, but today I respect the need for a sacred space within that one can withdraw to, gain succour from and always depend upon. As for not knowing everything about friends, acquaintances and loved ones, thank God for that!