My heart feels tight in my chest. Each beat coming a little too noticeably, and I wonder
what it will take to make this heart which my doctor has declared "too weak" to go from
weak to still. I remember once (or more than once, but after once what does it matter)
being told that your heart is about the size of your fist. So I held my fist in the air, flexing
and releasing my fingers, feeling my nails dig into the palm of my hand, and I wondered if
everyone’s heart is the exact size of their fist or if this is just a relative way for doctors to
explain heart size to people like me. And perhaps hearts are all exactly the same size,
molded from some heart manufacturer's sweatshop production line. One size fits all.
I try not to think like this, not to run circles around myself, but I find it becomes
impossible. My mind (which I believe to be weaker than this ridiculously fast-beating
nervous heart) takes one step and then as if it cannot believe we can go from crawl to
sprint, it tests this theory out and we’re off running circles again. And in this mind I fancy
a picture of myself, running tirelessly around a second self. And each lap only serves to
trample the ground down a bit more until suddenly, quite like a cartoon character, I am
running circles not around myself but beneath myself. And I stand (while I run) alone on
this pedestal I have moated myself upon.
So I sit here and wonder how long it will really take to make that moat, and if I do
succeed, what then? And I am slightly amused with the entire notion, if only because I
just told Tanya the other night that I no longer lie in bed at night wondering and worrying
when only 10 minutes ago I lie in bed pumping my fist in the dark air above me,
wondering about my heart. This leads me to wonder if I am a hypocrite and I must
conclude that indeed I am, for who is not? For if ever I have met a person that is not, I
would be impressed. I even listened to Kathi, a person that should be a role model for the
school, tell the school board one thing when I knew another to be true. She later called
this a “stretch of the truth”.
I’m not certain you can stretch the truth. Truth either is, or it is not. The moment you
change a single fiber of it, including any stretching (as if truth is taffy and not only can you
stretch it but you can eat it, stuff it way down, absorb it, and forget it exists) it becomes
something different, something new, something that was not there before. The fact that
people might believe that stretching the truth is different from lying has become
bothersome to me. If a person can take any untruth they don’t like, and tell it in such a
manner as benefits them, also saying they are not lying but merely stretching the truth ...
well, then are they not also lying to themselves? But they wouldn’t know this, because
they are merely stretching, changing, pulling, twisting, shifting, forcing a reality that does
not exist -- simply to make their life a little easier.
And if you can fool yourself into believing any little switch in reality that you do not like,
what is keeping you from anything at all? What is it that keeps these stretchers from
taking everything they want, anything at all -- without worry of consequence? After all, it
only takes a moment of mental ambiguity to reconstruct the past. And if you can convince
yourself of a new false truth, what is so difficult about convincing someone else? Perhaps
you cannot convince everyone (tricky little stop-n-shop hidden cameras!), but in some
situations this is highly possible.
Let’s pretend you live with someone naive. Someone trusting -- someone, shall we say,
overly optimistic. This person sees the silver lining in every cloud, even when it’s raining
over her head and lightning is dancing around her face. This person shakes her head and
laughs when you’re stuck in a traffic jam. Why be bothered? It’s just more time to listen
to good music, fall into your fantasies, or talk to the person you love. She holds your
hand when you are down, and tells you never, never to give up -- because the answer will
come, the good times are not that far away, and all problems do have a solution. She
believes you always are honest, you always are fair, and you always stand firm on the
notion that good will defeat evil. She believes in you, just like she believes in everyone
else, because it’s hardwired into her system to do so. And to let go of that belief would be
to unravel the stuff she is made of.
But you’re a stretcher. And bit by bit, you alter and rebuild the past. You take out some
blocks and put in new ones, building a rather shoddy tower that snakes upward, growing
as tall as it is unstable. And she watches the tower shift and renew, bend but not break.
She wonders how her memories of the tower differ from what is now presented to her.
She wonders how something so precisely held in her head as true could be the complete
opposite. And because she believes in you, and that good always wins and truth is ever
present, she does the only thing that seems logical.
She lets go of her memories, which have now become foggy. She pushes away the things
that she can no longer remember correctly, blaming her memory, her lack of attention to
detail, her own stupidity, and accepts your shabby tower as truth.
And in that moment, you, the stretcher, win.
So yes, it is possible to recreate history. And the fact that this can happen, that people so
easily tell “little white lies” to save face, or feel comfortable diminishing the truth so that
they may feel better ... it bothers me.
Perhaps what bothers me more, is that I have found myself doing the same, becoming a
stretcher, rearranging facts, telling myself it is okay as long as it helps me keep my head
above water. But knowing in my heart (that damn weak heart again) that it is wrong, that
truth should always rise above everything else, no matter what.
I have heard by two separate people in the past seven months, “Welcome to real life.”
If this is real life, I object.