I often stare in awe at people that have the energy to maintain their guard for an extended period of time, often their entire adult life, without appearing drained. They are often unassuming and enthusiastic about life, rarely missing an opportunity to make mention of the many wonderful experiences they’re having every other day. But if you look really closely, there is a quiet lie that accents every word and every gesture. A quiet lie that reveals the pain and the incompleteness of the existence that they pretend is so idyllic. It doesn’t require a trained eye or a special skill to see it. It just requires that you pay attention.
I look at the smile on people’s faces and most are incomplete. They laugh a lot, and smile even more, but their smile rarely reaches their eyes. Their eyes assume the position needed to complete the gesture, but it lacks the sparkle and the enchanting energy that is exuded when it truly reflects a pleased heart, or a content soul. The mystery of what creates the silent lie often escapes even them because its source is so well hidden that it’s like that trinket that is put away safely because it’s too fragile to handle only to never be found again until some upheaval or significant event causes us to dig into a part of our closet that was always left untouched while waiting for the right moment to arrive. That’s when we’re reminded of the darkness that descended for a while, but was hastily ushered away to prevent prying eyes from noticing the vulnerability that it revealed. But somehow, when that trinket is finally rediscovered, the scars that were too raw to touch or caress may have assumed a charm of their own over the years which finally made it bearable to observe them in a new light while even appreciating them for the characteristic quirks that gave us that endearing trait that we previously would have despised.
Scars of the soul are as visible as scars of the skin, if not more so but only if you’re paying attention. When we truly seek to engage with another, we’ll see in their eyes what their mouths and bodies refuse to reveal. Their eyes are incapable of lying. Conviction can only be faked if the pretender has convinced themselves of the lie that is being presented. Only then might the eyes conceal it even if only momentarily. And so we go through life protecting ourselves from events that should only have defined a moment in our life, but we nurtured it to define our world instead. In the process of this self-deceit we commit the next greatest harm against ourselves. We create a manufactured threat that convinces us that the defences that belonged to a single moment are necessary for our preservation. But the hurt of the moment was cherished more than the strength we had to survive it, which caused it to grow and fester in our being, while our strength lost its true purpose and instead became a means to maintain a façade that protected us from ourselves while believing that we needed to protect ourselves from the world.
There is a time in our life when even after all this deception has ravaged us that we will establish a trusted handhold that threatens to draw us out of our fortress. It is at that time that we face the daunting decision to give trust a chance, or to continue with the deception. Most choose the deception and achieve mediocre goals in life that may even seem significant relative to others. Mediocrity is easily seen as greatness if the benchmark is a soul that is damaged more than your own. So we choose our points of reference carefully in order to maintain the deception, all the while convincing ourselves that there is a real threat that we face. A threat that we never expect others to understand because we fail to see the manufactured threats of others while we’re distracted by our own, instead of paying attention.
Occasionally someone will come along to nudge you out of the stupor. Alas, we’ll likely not notice because attention to the present moment will be dwarfed by our need to protect ourselves.