"Too few of us ever get used to automatically putting the bare facts on the table and telling it as it is. What usually prevents us is that the image others may form of us will not match up to our expectations. Many years ago I learned that lasting self-improvement can be very hard the longer one becomes attached to a vice. A behaviour we have engaged in for too many years can become so entrenched, it is difficult to change. The devil in each of us knows how much easier it is to remain settled in sin instead of seeking positive change. Many times I have tried to change for the better in one way or another and in truth, I never found the process easy. I soon learned, however, that all change is possible and that in order to permanently change for the good, one has to actively and vigorously strive to counter our worst nature and baser instinct.
Don't get me wrong, I was never what one could call 'a bad person'; someone I would have considered rotten at the core, but for many years until my thirties, I was morally frayed around the edges. I was filled with too much pride, I could be arrogant and intolerant in the present of fools and I generally thought too highly of myself. My most prominent vices at the time were conceit, along with a propensity to deceive in potentially embarrassing situations. I was reminded of this former vice a few days ago in a Facebook comment to my daily post when someone wondered if I was telling a 'tall tale' because one of the descriptive comments I made about a certain type of fish to be found in the Canadian Rockies was inaccurate. I can say with 100 percent certainty today, that of any vices I have remaining, and there are some, 'dishonesty' is not one of them and hasn't been so since a particular experience I had as an adult following my divorce.
There comes a time in everyone's life when concealment runs its course and it's time to come clean and stop hiding the truth. It may not seem so great a thing, to be honest, but believe me, total honesty is a rarity which few are prone to express in unvarnished form. As a general rule, almost everything we think and say is rarely perfect in the match. On occasions, we tend to tell little white lies or express euphemisms to make our finished pronouncement more palatable and presentable to others (for example, receiving a birthday present we instantly dislike from a loved one, and being asked by them on the spot, 'Do you like it?') As we respond thus, we tell ourselves that it's because we are sensitive and care about the other's person's feelings, when in truth it is how our words will be received that govern our action.
As a young boy, I was always fascinated by the American folklore about George Washington who reportedly couldn't tell a lie. Of the many sins which I was capable of committing, I found it was easier to resist most with the exception of not always telling the truth. I don't know what it is with children in particular, but being caught red-handed doing wrong by a responsible adult, and in finding oneself in a corner, automatically tends to bring out the dishonest self in us when trying to explain away our behaviour. Indeed, one of my mother's oft-quoted phrases was, 'You can catch a thief but you can't catch a liar.'
I recall that after my first marriage had ended and following a decent period of celibacy, I re-entered the dating scene, I decided to go dancing at the Mecca in Bradford one Saturday night with my friend Geoffrey. The Mecca on a Saturday night was renown as the place where 'a good time' was to be had by all, and unless you had been stood at the back of the queue when handsome features were being passed out, nobody ever had cause to go home alone at the end of the night. Consequently, in the belief that we would both finish up with a female companion at the end of the night, we each took our own cars to the dance in order to leave all options open.
When the dance ended, both Geoffrey and I had obtained a good looking partner for 'the last waltz' and we each finished up taking our respective female partners home at the end of the night. To be perfectly honest, that night as I drove my dance partner home, I had but one predominant thought in my head which involved the separation of her from some of her undergarments. My partner was a nice young woman, aged around her late twenties. She was highly attractive, fashionably dressed and very talkative. For most of our journey to her house she spoke freely about some of her bad life experiences, and while I was naturally attentive and polite in my replies, I was being partly dishonest and disrespectful of her situation. By focusing on my own feelings and prime objective during our car journey back to her house instead of attending to her predominant feelings, I was essentially placing her needs in second place to my wants.
You see, we each had distinctly different needs at the time which we sought to be satisfied. Hers was predominantly to talk and talk and get things off her chest, while my immediate needs were more physical and could be said to also have involved 'getting things off her chest.' The evening ended as I had hoped it would when I first set off for the dance, and I did not see the young woman again.
At the time I was employed as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield and a large part of my work involved listening to, empathising with, advising and counselling people with whom I worked. In fact, it could be said that the whole of my working day was devoted to helping troubled and emotionally disturbed people cope with and resolve their bad feelings about this and that.
Two days after the dance when I was at work, I thought back about the previous night's events. The feelings I was left with though, were not those of pride or satisfaction. There were no triumphant feelings about having 'made out' with a beautiful young woman whom I'd met a few hours earlier at the Mecca. To put it bluntly, I felt a bit of a shit and deservedly so!
The more I thought about the needs of the young woman at the time, the more I knew that I had sadly neglected them at worse or put them on the back burner at best. That day, in my 39th year of life, I promised myself that in future I would be upfront and honest in all my dealings with man, woman or child, whatever the inconvenience caused to them and me.I vowed never again to deliberately deceive by word or omission.
I will not pretend for one moment that it has been easy adopting this behaviour consistently. It hasn't, and it required constant practice to establish an automatic honest response and make 'telling the truth' a natural part of me. In some ways, being totally honest about what I say doesn't always meet with the approval of all, especially in those situations where one is more naturally expected to be more sparing with the truth in case the other person's feelings are easily hurt. If hurtful revelations can be honestly avoided, then it is foolish not to avoid revealing.
Since that day thirty-five years ago, I have, to the best of my knowledge always remained truthful and honest in all I say and do, and though sometimes hard, I have always felt better for it! In the main, most people can live easier with the truth and are prepared to accept you as being the person you purport to be if you remain truthful and honest in your dealings with them. That is why today in my posts I am able to be myself in all respects and express personal details about my past and present; truths which many would never consider disclosing, truth which publicly identify my flaws as a human being. I know that many of you feel such truths make me vulnerable and perhaps in some measure they do, but all I can say is that being truthful sits more comfortable with the person I now am and makes me more easy in my own skin. Ask any nudist and they will tell you that there is a form of liberation of the spirit that only true nakedness can bring!
Upon reflection, being an author provides me with ample opportunity to tell 'tall stories' by constructing characters who I can get to lie for me and mislead the reader in the story plot in order to add to the suspense and surprise. One could call this a vicarious pleasure by telling untruths through the mouth of others." William Forde: October 3rd, 2017.