Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
It's almost impossible for me to go through the day without telling a lie. I lie in order not to hurt someone, for example. Of course, the truth isn't necessarily called for when not asked for. But sometimes you're asked for it, and sometimes it's better not to provide it. If they ask you, are you going to tell your child she or he wasn't less than wonderful in the school recital? And if you do tell them they just weren't that good—which is the truth, mind you!—well, go live with the look on their face.
Someone asked playwright Tracy Letts what he says when he sees a play written by a friend that he thinks is awful and the friend asks him his opinion.
"I lie!" Letts said. "I lie magnificently!"
I agree with what one of Graham Greene's characters has to say about this: "The truth, he thought, has never been of any real value to any human being—it is a symbol for mathematicians to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths."
Of course, sometimes lying is despicable. If the intent is to deceive, to cause harm, simply to gain an advantage, well, it's ugly. Sometimes you have to tell the truth. You're a coward if you don't. I often fail here. I lie when I shouldn't. Not proud of that.
I side with Tennessee Williams. I trust his sense of morality. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Mitch confronts Blanche with some unsavory details about her past:
Mitch: You lied to me, Blanche.
TW was the same guy who said the worst sin is deliberate cruelty. And a lot of times a well-fabricated lie prevents me from being deliberately cruel. In those moments, I'm content to be a liar.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Sometime in the early 1980s, when I was living in New York City, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In those days, I went often. It was a sunny fall day. I climbed the familiar marble steps and walked into the main entrance hall. It’s a vast space. It was, as it always is, crowded with humanity. There were uncountable scattered individuals, and there were groups. I looked about absently, trying to decide what part of the museum I would explore that day, at which point I would enter.
I noticed a group directly in front of me. There were about fifteen people in the group, all of them, I could see, wearing name tags. For some reason, and now I wonder why, I walked closer to them. I saw that the tags read, “Cranbrook School Alumni.” My old school prep school! Surprised, I looked to see if I recognized any of them. I did not.
Then I heard a male voice. “Ok, let’s go!” it said commandingly. I turned my eyes toward the voice. Instantly, I knew who it was. It was Pete Dawkins. The great Pete Dawkins, West Point graduate, football legend, all-around hero and Cranbrook School alumnus. I had studied his face so carefully so many times when I was at Cranbrook that even with the gray hair he had now, I knew it was him. That chieftain, that granite-hewn face! And, it made sense, of course, that he was leading a group of alumni of the school he had once attended.
There he stood, the ultimate alumnus, leading the chosen few. What had they done to be part of this elite group? What had they promised? A personal tour by none other than the mythical Pete Dawkins. Just for an instant, I had the urge to walk up to him. I wanted to talk to him. I had some things I wanted to know about his time at Cranbrook. Did he know he had been used? Did he know he had been a lure? He raised an arm and waved the group forward, like the soldier he was. Then Pete Dawkins turned and began walking away, the group following eagerly behind him. I watched them move through the throng toward the heart of the museum, this gray-haired hero leading them. Very soon, they began to be swallowed up in the crowd. And then they vanished completely, as if they’d never been there.
My heart was pounding.
I turned and walked out of the museum, down the stone steps, and away from the throng, so I could breathe.[Please read the rest of the story here: https://medium.com/@richgood711/becoming-pete-dawkins-4073cff4bb7c]
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
And I not only wept, I wailed, throwing out desperate question after desperate question. I don't know the answers. Why? Why did it end up like this?
The complete vulnerability, nakedness, all of it poured out of my eyes and throat.
And afterward—you all know this—stunned and exhausted, wrung out, nothing left, nothing.
No answers. But surrender. Blessed surrender.
The release of those pent-up feelings, overcoming the instinct to keep in control, for God's sake, not to mention the sense, in my case at least, that it's unmanly to cry—to break past that and let it happen. Finally.