This is an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s book “Letters to my Daughter“, I’ve read it so many times, sometimes it inspires my seasoned liar self to be better, other times it only leaves me with questions but every single time, it makes me smile…..
My mother warned me often not to believe that people really want the truth when they ask, ‘How are you?’ She said most people knew it as a conversation starter. No one really expects to be answered, or even wants to know ‘well my knees feel like they are broken, and my back hurts so bad I could fall down and cry’ A response like that would be a conversation stopper. It would end even before it could begin. So we all say, ‘Fine, thank you, and you?’
I believe in that way we learn to give and receive social lies. We look at friends who have lost dangerous amounts of weight or who have added ungainly pounds and we say, You’re looking good.’ everybody knows that the statement is a blatant lie but we all swallow the untruth in part to keep the peace and in part because we do not want to deal with the truth……..
Let us tell the truth people. When people ask, ‘How are you,’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know however, that people will start avoiding you because they too have knees that pain and heads which hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way, if people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine researches on a cure for whatever truly afflict you.
But reading it today, I thought: it is truly hard sometimes, isn’t it? To tell the truth. Because here is the truth; The Truth is just so damn boring sometimes. Look at how fiction sells way faster that biographies!!
Why tell a child that rats like meat, (In Uganda, the fairy godmother doesn’t exist, instead its a sexy rat, I think, that takes your tooth and leaves money), not that tooth they just went through a lot of pain and discomfort losing, when you could distract their over active imaginations with wild tales and happily ever experiences at only one thousand Uganda shillings or less each time.
I honestly don’t want to know that while you’re hitting on me, the line that got you my number failed to work with the last 16 women or that or that you now have to figure out how to get rid of all your ‘loose ends’ after swearing you were not seeing anyone else. Lets just stick to me being the only reason your heart beats(as if) and revelations of how I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, as if I don’t own a mirror and watch E!
You should here some of the stories I’ve pinned in my life time on my father(rest his soul) mostly because as a person who lost her dad so young, I just refused to allow him to be another government statistic when he was SO much more to me, yet I could start an adventure series about him. But I still think he’s the tallest, strongest, greatest man I ever met in my life because all I have left are an 8year old’s memory.
“Everything is going to be OK” even when you’re not sure it is, could change tears to a little glimmer of hope.
So why tell the truth when lies make us happier sometimes?