This [Static]


I’m getting tired of excuses
Wafer thin, paper delicate
Platitudes masking apathy
Disguised in finery
Yet naked to the touch
These bankrupt conversations
Mere shadows of concrete
Lies of convenience
Dancing through these tears
Like Astaire in the rain
Like consequences unpaused
Waiting for night to fall
For this bed to catch my weight
This pillow to take my sighs
Because from moment to moment
Absolutely nothing changes

We spend our time in lines
Moving up as others fall away
Stuck in rhetorical circles
That end up where they began
Words swirling down the drain
Tossed out as if denied
As if nothing else matters
Save for the monumental rush
Of deception’s slippery tongue
These whispers in the dark
Or in the startling light of day
When demons turn to angels
And we try to make some sense
Of these shards upon the floor
This trust all but shattered

By meaningless static
Distorting my frequency.



300 Writing Prompts: #9

“Name one thing you have lied to yourself about. Why did you do this?”

LIES-1920x1080I’m in the midst of a series of interviews to prove the commonality of experience, and one of the essential questions I ask every single one of my subjects is, “What’s one question you always answer with a lie?” The question above reminds me of this, so it’s kind of ironic that I’m now answering it. Funnily enough, the things people have told me they always lie about are relatively superficial, and so is mine. But lying to yourself is a bit different from lying to others.

For starters, lying to myself means I’ve drilled it so deep down that I don’t even realize I’m lying anymore. That’s hard to pinpoint because it now seems like the truth to me, although my subconscious always knows, that sneaky devil. When I started going to therapy the first time I had to come to grips with the lies I’ve always told myself: that I’m happy with my appearance, that I don’t care what other people think of me, and that I don’t get self-conscious. Those realizations hit me hard like a sledgehammer, the peeling away of those masks I hadn’t even known I was wearing, but it had to happen.

One thing I lied to myself about for years was that I didn’t have any preferences. In fact, when in mixed company I would pretty much be a chameleon, and I thought that was what I liked. I’m sure others noticed it, but no one ever talked to me about it, the fact that I always changed depending on who I was with. Now I know others do that — cater their personalities to audience — but for me it was more. For me it wasn’t about different parts of me. It was about not knowing I was being like them. It was about forgetting who I was in the first place.

I guess it came down to accents, dialects, speech patterns, all that jazz. I copied the way that the people around me spoke because it was a way of fitting in, but I didn’t know I was changing my own speech. In fact, I never realized it until later when a friend spoke up and told me what was happening. She had noticed me in two different settings, but she thought I was doing it on purpose. It hadn’t even occurred to her that it went deeper than that, that I had lied to myself for so long about who I was, and when I realized she was right it hit hard.

That’s because I didn’t know how to stop. Like the man who lived with the aborigines for 20 years and didn’t know how to fit in western society anymore, it was so deeply ingrained in me to like what others liked, to talk like others talked, to be what everyone else was. I basically had to strip away every single artifice and start fresh, like a baby learning to walk for the first time. It was difficult, too, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and it took some time to truly figure out and stop lying to myself.

Through the process I found out I was opinionated, that I didn’t like black coffee, that my friends were actually different from me, and that sometimes I really did prefer silence over noise. And all that new information comforted me, because lies drift off in the ether, but the truth is solid. I like finally being solid.


Embracing the Embellishments

It’s funny how as we get older we think back on the “good old days,” back when apparently trees were made of candy, when rivers were made of chocolate milk, and when every day was a Sunday. Sound familiar? I’ve always thought that distance creates a certain kind of fondness, even when we should know better. Our memories get hazier as time goes by, though, and our minds fill in the blanks with good things because we don’t like being ourselves. Imagine if someone had videotaped every single second of our lives and played back each one of those “good old days” and we were faced with the reality that is much less sterling than our recollections now. Would we want the truth, or would we instead want to keep embracing the embellishments?

When I was a kid, I remember reading the story of Pinocchio. It fascinated me that a wooden boy made by an old guy could have hopes and dreams, but it totally blew my mind that his nose would get longer when he lied. That would have to be pretty embarrassing, I would think, when he’s trying to make new friends and improve as an individual, that one little lie would do that to him. It makes me think of people I know who lie all the time (I can sense it, seeing as I was one of them). How would they live with themselves if, say, they turned a bright shade of blue every time they told a lie, and everyone knew that was the reason?

As we get older, too, the achievements that we made become almost otherworldly. That shot we made in the championship game was from half court to win it. We won the spelling bee with the word “asceticism.” We grew ten inches in ten days. As human beings, we tend to remember things in a unique way that is pretty close to the lies told by Pinocchio. But who do these lies really hurt? My theory is that we need these lies to sustain our own self-image, so that we aren’t depressed all the time about how ordinary our lives really were.

So, the next time you hear someone say something you know isn’t true about some piece of nostalgia, don’t forget that everyone doesn’t have the positive self-image you have. Let them have their moment. You know, unless it’s at your expense, since you were really the one who made that last second shot in the championship game.


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