My title is from the Terry Pratchett fantasy novel THE TRUTH. In that novel a typesetter makes the mistake of placing a “T” rather than an “E” at the end of that last word. And while the Biblical line “…the truth will make you free…” is spot on, so is the fact that there truth can and will make you fret.
Well, let’s see, when you discover the truth about a situation, something that you’ve held dearly for years and have honored and loved, it can shock you. Such as finding out that the world is round when you thought it was flat. Or that the sun doesn’t go around the Earth but the Earth goes around the sun. Or that you’re not the center of the universe.
That’s called Cultural Shock. I suffered from cultural shock back in the year 2000 when I found out that the conspiracy theorists were right and that California’s energy crisis really was a conspiracy, caused by Enron. I dismissed their claims as outrageous and illogical. But, they were right about this one. How about that?
Cultural Shock can also happen when you discover you’re no longer a liberal but a conservative. Or that you’re no longer a conservative but a liberal. Or, that you don’t care about those view points because you’re a moderate.
Cultural Shock can happen when your heroes fail you. When you discover they are doing what they do for their own glory, or even worse, to satisfy their own baser needs. Like when you find out your hero only cares about the money, the sex, the drugs and the power and doesn’t care anything about his/her fans and followers.
Or when a leader starts talking about his/her legacy and place in history and not about the good they can and should do for the people THEY SERVE. When a leader thinks he/she is better than those that elected him/her or he or she is smarter than the people, that’s when they don’t care about anything or anybody but themselves. Leading requires humility, honor, dedication, and loyalty–not just loyalty to some but loyalty to all those that you lead. Self-righteousness and pettiness are childish qualities in a leader. You must be willing to do what’s right no matter how hard it is and not do what’s wrong just because it’s easier and you’re hoping no one will notice. And if the good you do only benefits some and not others then you must find something that blesses those that are left out. Disenfranchisement is not leadership but hypocrisy.
What else can the truth make you fret about? How about when you’re not accomplishing what you want to accomplish because you either haven’t been trying hard enough or have let yourself get bogged down in the details of life. Say you’re a dancer, or a song writer, or novelist, or a painter, or poet and you find that living interferes with accomplishment. That’s when you have to re-prioritize. You have to decide what’s more important to you. Is smelling every flavor, laughing at every joke, returning every smile, loving person important to you?
It that last sentence is important to you, don’t agonize over your lack of progress in your art. Living a full life, a happy life, isn’t always climbing Mount Everest, running with the bulls in Spain, running an organization or a Fortune 500 Company or base jumping or sky diving. A happy life is as important as writing a novel, a poem, or a song. And sometimes the things we want to be are not the things where we will shine. One failed writer in the 1920s picked up a camera and became a great photographer. A failed businessman in the 1930s became President of the United States in 1948.
Failing at one thing doesn’t mean you’ll fail at everything. I’ve never been brilliant or successful or a competitor on American Ninja Warrior (and by the way, when they talk about climbing Mount Midori Yama they’re being redundant, Yama is Japanese for Mountain). Nor have I been a gifted athlete or good leader. But I have been a good dad, a good husband (I hope), a good son, a good brother (mostly), a good friend, a good uncle, a good person. It won’t win any awards. People will find my tombstone in two hundreds and not really care who I was or whether I was good or bad. But I’ve had a good life and I’m not dead yet.
As Edgar Rice Burroughs’s characters often said in his Tarzan and science fiction novels, “Where there is breath, there is hope!”