I recently read a poem in which one line referred to “beautiful lies”, which on the surface, would appear to be an oxymoron. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. How often do I say something purely as a kind gesture. When searching for something to say, I choose to lean toward the positive. And in fact, my comments often are not really lies, more reshaped truths. Telling someone that I like their jacket, or shoes or whatever, when in fact, I don’t really think there is something special about them at all. Or telling someone how good they look when in fact they look stressed out.
Each week, as I wander the halls of the nursing home where I volunteer, I see the faces of yesterday, many with vacant or hollow eyes. I greet many of them and find myself saying things that are purely to make a positive statement (accompanied by a smile) even though I know much of what I say is suspect at best. These, I guess are my beautiful lies.
One of the residents that I visited frequently was a man who loved to play Cribbage. So each week, we would drag out his board and a deck of cards and play a few games. He had congestive heart failure and knew he would not survive his stay. Yet, I found myself saying things that would contradict that result. Beautiful lies. He knew it, and so did I. But I did it anyway. I couldn’t do any different. After he passed, I received a note from his daughter telling me how much he had enjoyed my visits. That meant a lot to me because it confirmed that they also meant a lot to him, lies and all.
I justify my behavior by rationalizing that everyone does it, although that is somewhat of a cop out. In reality, I do it because I think it is what the other person wants or needs to hear. It is inherent within us, I think, to spare someones feeling by bending the truth. I’m not sure that is so wrong? I don’t know. It just seems we all have enough problems getting by without someone reminding us of the negatives. A kind word, accurate or not, carries some weight, and perhaps, brightens someones day. We believe what we want to believe.
So I probably won’t change. I will continue to say what I think is right. I just think there are times when it is preferable to communicate with my heart instead of my conscience.