On lying to impress

I remember how when I was much younger, I used to tell people things about myself that weren’t actually true. I did it to impress them, or otherwise not feel ashamed at not having participated in something or come to possess something which everyone else seemed to think was the norm. For example, the littler me might have been asked on his birthday, what kind of a celebration he was going to have. Though nothing more than a family dinner transpires, he would tell the person that he had celebrated it in a praise-worthy fashion with some fun-loving friends. He would have thought it embarrassing to say anything else, since that was the norm – people are expected to celebrate their birthdays by turning the entire day into an ostentatious carnival. But it was tiring to keep the illusion up. And still more, it was agonizing to face the barrenness which he had concealed so well from others, and sometimes even himself. What was the point, he wondered, of impressing upon people the idea that your life is dainty and enviable, when it is clearly not. Why mask the dessert dunes in flakes of snow? Why not appreciate the beauty of the dunes? So eventually littler me realized that it was pointless to lie to people about one’s circumstances, if only to impress them. Tell them the truth, he said – yes, that’s what I’ll do, only the truth – be proud of the truth. And therein lied the secret to happiness. After all, what is happiness but a simple harmony between a man and his life?


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