Satya, the Yama of truthfulness makes me think back to my childhood and my mother saying to us kids “If you tell on yourself, you will be in less trouble.” Though it never seemed as if we were in less trouble for ratting ourselves out, what I did find is by being truthful it made it easier. The thing is living outside of your truth takes work. It takes hard work to remain in a lie. I’m a rip the Band-Aid type of gal, just rip it off and get the discomfort over with.
When I was 17ish, I was driving my parents Chrysler LaBaron with my little sister as my passenger in the park. She was harassing me to let her drive. Finally, to get her to shut up, I agreed. Mind you; our dad would take us to the park, or random roads on the outskirts of town and let us drive. We started around age 8, first with steering then as we grew we were allowed to drive on our own with him present in the car (something my mother was never keen on). I knew my little sister was a decent driver; she had five years of driving experience at the ripe old age of 13. I conceded and let her drive; we were in the back portion of the park where rarely anyone drove. Off the side of the road, there was a big rock. She had been complaining the drive was too easy, so I did the logical thing any teenager would do who was letting their younger sibling drive, I jokingly dared her to drive around a rock on the side of the road. Which she attempted to do, unfortunately, Chrysler LaBaron’s aren’t great at 4×4 activities. And the car got stuck in the mud.
We attempted to push the car out but it wouldn’t budge. It was about 4 O’clock in the afternoon in the fall; I decided we should walk the ½ mile to a payphone (this was back in the day when cell phones were the size of mason bricks and the only kids that had them were on the Beverly Hills 90210 show). When we got to the pay phone, we attempted to call home, but the phone just rang and rang. Which meant my dad was on the phone and ignoring call waiting (back then it didn’t go to voicemail we had an answering machine for that to answer the phone had to be free). The next step was to call my grandmother, but we didn’t have any change…and that meant collect. Which was by no means easy, my little sister who was the smooth talker offered to call. I let her.
My grandmother answered, and was annoyed at being called collect. My little sister told my grandmother a story. One that involved a big truck driving on the wrong side of the road and that I had to veer off the road so that we didn’t have a head-on collision. My grandmother drove to my parents’ house and told them the story that Tabitha had told. My father told my mother the story.
My mother’s reaction was “Ted that’s not true, that’s a story. Who did the talking Tabitha or Thea?
My dad said “Tabitha.”
My mom said, “If just Tabitha told the story and Thea didn’t say anything, well then it isn’t true. We’ll have to ask Thea. If Thea doesn’t say anything, then it’s not true. Thea probably let Tabitha drive.”
My dad came down to the park to get us; the car was still stuck, and a tow truck would be needed. We had to wait until the next day to get the car.
When we got home, I remember standing in our blue living room. Tabitha told my parents the story. It was a great story with many details.
My mom looked at me and said: “Thea is this true?”
I looked at the ground and said, “No.”
My mom then went all Matlock/Murder She Wrote on us and told us how things transpired. She was pretty dead on, except for the part regarding the joke about driving around the rock. I had learned at age 8, never to lie to my mother, all attempts would be futile. My little sister was confident that she was smooth (that false bravado of the early teen years)…no one is that smooth. lol
I remember thinking as Tabitha told her story though it was engaging and a great story that it was way too much effort.
I’ve generally lived my life in truth. I found when I didn’t live in my truth that was when things became hard. Of course living your truth will alienate some, it will be hard at times, others may disagree, but it gives you the freedom to live without excess burden. The great thing about the truth is that when you live it, you don’t have to keep retelling it. You don’t have to remember the details because they are spontaneous. You live it.
The truth must be handled cautiously, though, because truth can be perception. We paint the world with our experiences, so our truth might not be the same as someone else and it may not be the ultimate truth. With that in mind come the quote I have seen referenced to Sai Baba, Buddha, Socrates and Rumi (via the internet and I imagine there is a meme out there with Marilyn Monroe and MLK as well):
“Before you speak, ask yourself: is it kind, is it necessary is it true, does it improve on the silence?”
It is important to be able to differentiate between what is your truth, and what is your opinion. Sometimes as humans we get that mixed up.
You can live your truth by operating within your character. Behaving in a way that is aligned with your core beliefs. But with the practice of Satya also comes Ahimsa. We don’t want to live our truth to the peril and detriment of others by being unkind or rude.