The Artful Dodger… of Truth
She Liked her own Post!
As I was perusing this week’s Weekly Writing challenge: Overheard, I saw something which made me do a double-take, not dissimilar to the ones which I do when I overhear something which makes me notice that I heard it in the first place.
Robyn, the creator of this challenge and the post, had ‘Liked’ her own post. Her gravatar was amongst the recent ‘Likes’ of the post. Then I realised that I had mistaken the ‘Comments’ for the ‘Likes’. She hadn’t ‘Liked’ her own post, she had simply replied to a ‘Comment’ on the post.
I had misheard what I had overheard with my eyes.
The truth set me free from the delusion of illusion, however it also resulted in a problem, the sort of problem which often occurs when truth meets lie – trying to decide which version of events I preferred.
I ‘Liked’ the fact that she had ‘Liked’ her own post. It gave me a happy! And I ‘Liked’ her all the more for it! Now that fact wasn’t a fact anymore…
During the few seconds in which I believed the lie of the illusion, my mind had already started crafting a post – which in my case means it had begun an inner conversation which was flowing along a path which interested me. The moment that I discovered my error and realised the truth of the matter, a dam came crashing down and blocked the flow of conversation, internally deleting my post.
I accepted the truth, even though it was rather boring to my mind compared to the lie, and moved on… to another conversation. One about lies versus truth, and how often we prefer the former over the latter, not because we value lies over truth, but because the lie takes us on a journey whereas the truth forces us to be here now, grounding our flights of fantasy.
This incident connected with two articles which I had read earlier in the day. One was – Made Up Stories: Our Life’s Narrative – which explored the stories we tell, mostly about ourselves, and the part they play in our lives, especially where change is concerned. The other article was – Evidence Based Debunking – in which the writer discussed constructive ways to inform someone that they are wrong without meeting with the resistance which such an action usually incurs.
No one likes to be told that they are wrong, especially when they are certain that they are right. Even when they know that they might be wrong, that they were presenting an opinion as fact, making a judgment based on bias rather than proof, even if they are open to being wrong, they don’t like to be confronted with facts proving that their right is a wrong.
When we are wrong, and someone else points it out in a way which feels abrupt, we sometimes feel that our rights are being violated and we rush to their defense because at this point it is no longer about the right and wrong of our previous wrong which we had thought was right, it is about a very different kind of right and wrong – our freedom to express ourselves whether we are right or wrong. Of course the person who abruptly nay-sayed us has the same rights, but not when we feel censored due to their freedom of speech. It can get very messy and complicated, as all things related to humans can and do.
As I read the latter article, reference points of a personal nature popped into my mind. Old conversations which I had had with myself were stirred from the archives of a life lived. One of these was of one of the very first experiences (which I can vividly recall) that I had of the saying – A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
This particular experience started with my overhearing what someone else was saying, and doing a double-take because of what I had heard. I wasn’t certain if I had overheard them correctly, and considering the context, I took it upon myself to investigate further. I butted into the conversation with my ears (and later with my mouth) – I felt I had a right to do it as what I had overheard involved me personally, even though it was slightly indirectly.
The scene, the context of the conversation, was an art gallery in which were displayed some of my father’s paintings as part of a one-man show. I was there to gain some work experience, which mostly entailed grunt work, but also observing professionals dealing with collectors in their natural environment. I was supposed to be a shadow, and usually I did that quite well as I was comfortable being invisible due to my status (by proxy) and what that involved.
I rarely spoke to collectors, and on the few occasions which I did, I certainly didn’t mention that I was the daughter of the artist. I was not ashamed of my ‘status’, I simply saw it as irrelevant. The paintings were what mattered. My father had taught me that. He liked it when people made a fuss over him, artists love that, however he preferred it when people made a fuss over his work, and he often noted that for an artist the collector is more important than the artist because without the collector the artist is just someone who paints. His views were to become what alienated him from what he loved the most in life (and he and his family suffered the consequences), as the art business disagreed with them and ostracised him when he refused to accept their right over their perception of him being wrong – a wrong which he refused to see as being wrong. He was dismissed and his work was invalidated because he wanted to make his art accessible to people, rather than inaccessible and only available to an elite.
If you love art, the last thing you want to overhear is the conversations which take place behind the scenes of the business side of art.
I digress into a peeve which may explain some of my inherent and inherited rebelliousness. Back to the incident…
As I was busy being a shadow, I overheard a collector speaking with a gallery salesman.
Collector: The artist has a son…
I hadn’t heard much of what had come before, I knew the gist of it. The collector had bought my father’s most recent book – which did not contain information about his family in the biographical blurb. An earlier book had, and it had also contained photographs of the artist and his family, of him with his wife and daughter (since I was six at the time those photos were taken… perhaps I could have been mistaken for a boy, but the photos contained my name and it was not the name of a boy… if it was, it would have been like that boy named Sue).
I didn’t hear much of what came after what I’d overheard. I was perplexed. Should I say something or remain in the shadows? I tried to make eye-contact with the salesman for a prompt, but their eyes were glazed over. They were not listening to the collector because they’d assessed that no sale would result from this conversation. This collector was an avid fan who had already bought what they were going to buy. No more dollar signs left to exchange or extract.
I hesitated. Decided to listen a bit more before jumping into the deep end of conclusion. My father was known to get up close and personal with his subjects – maybe he did have a son, one which I did not know about. For a split second that idea filled me with excitement. I was an only child, one of those who longed for a sibling.
However further overhearing revealed that the artist had an only child, and that child was a son.
The shadow in me dissipated and I stepped into the spotlight.
Me: I am fairly certain that the artist’s child is a daughter.
The collector looked at me as would be expected – an interloper who had intruded with stupidity. A clumsy klutz, a bungling buffoon.
Collector: No, he has a son! I know everything about the artist! I am his biggest fan!
I was being put in my place. But… I was a teenager.
Me: I know the artist and his family personally, he doesn’t have a son, he has a daughter.
The collector would have struck me down with a thunderbolt and turned me into ash-dust if they (could do such a thing) hadn’t been so convinced that they were right and I was in the wrong and could prove it – which is a pleasurable and addictive feeling, that many find hard to resist indulging.
Collector (smart talking with stupid): He has a son, I know this for a fact!
I broke my rule and the guidelines set by others for me.
Me (stubborn talking with stubborn): I am the artist’s child, I am female, therefore his daughter, and I know this as a fact!
The salesman broke out of their stupor and smoothed the perfect storm out. They ushered the collector away to show them something special, to which only special fans of the artist would be privy. Later they dealt with me, telling me that if I wanted to be in sales (and get along in life), I had to learn to never ever ever ever argue with a client, even one who isn’t going to buy anything, as it is bad for business. Let them be right even if they are very wrong as long as they spend their money and spread the word – which should always be positive about your business and the product which you are selling.
The truth can set you free… or it can tangle you up in the knots caused by other kinds of truth – people are very attached to their beliefs, especially those which take them to wonderful destinations thanks to their flight on fantasy airlines.
We are all the same as other people in that respect, it’s just that we don’t always agree on what ‘the same’ is.