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A Canadian expatriate living and exploring first France now Germany, then BACK to FRANCE (!!!) with her family; former fashion designer, turned unexpected UNLIKELY NOMAD, raising two children, writing, photographing, painting, playing piano (who knew!!) and blogging - and now... full time student at ART SCHOOL!! (I MUST be crazy!!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Experiments with the Truth or If walking feels too slow you are living too fast...


Ten years or so ago (who is counting anyway), when I was travelling in India , I got a tummy bug so bad, it was all I could do to hobble to the bathroom for the necessary, and to wobble out to the hall to pick up my plain rice and broth, all that I could stomach. Having been on the road for 8 months, staying at the most in one place for a week at a time, I was sick and tired of travelling.

I stayed holed up in that hotel room hiding and nursing myself better for more than a week. I could describe every feature of it in detail from the mustard colored carpet, the grey-white linen on the bed to the soft cool marble floor in the bath and the wet smell and sound of the never ceasing air conditioner, which I thanked my lucky stars for as it was as hot as hell. It was then, holed up in that hotel room hiding from India that I read all-in-one-go, Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography "My Story of Experiments with the Truth ", a dog eared and undoubtedly pirated copy bought from a dubious bookseller on a dusty street corner for a rupee or two.

One of the most important books I have ever read.

Gandhi presents us, by example of his daily existence, a conscious and thoughtful lifestyle that demonstrates the value of caring for ones self, by growing ones own food, weaving ones own cloth, cleaning ones own house, doing ones own laundry. A lawyer from a wealthy family living in a time where society dictated servants, Gandhi's communal and self sufficient existence sent out a clear and powerful message of change. I still remain impressed by the courage and strength of this singular man who succeeded by successfully challenging and changing the political status-quo with a massive peoples passive resistance, indeed his message is still with me.

The time and place and the powers at work reflected differently on his ideas then, than the things at work in our culture today, and but his ideas are no less relevant.

Does it seem to some of you in our day of the National Enquirer and Hollywood and Britney and consumer debt that some of us seem to be loosing our way? Floating soulless in the face of the fast material world, motivated to look outward towards images of increased social and financial status instead of inwards to our true value and sense of self? Gandhi's message of living thoughtfully and consciously, taking the time to pause for reflection and being self sufficient are all things that have always seemed to me to be things that restore our somewhat lost sense of self.

Slow down, take time to value yourself by caring for yourself and for others. What a simple and yet profoundly truthful message. Or is it?

So what is truth, is it fixed; or fluid and ever changing?
How does this or any truth connect with the context of daily reality?
Can we really have "Experiments with the Truth"?

It seems we have been having our own set of experiments in our household, as (anyone else?) seems when you are seven years old these things come into question, and it does take some thought and energy to figure out EXACTLY what the TRUTH really is.

Dear Son,

First....I wish you were old enough to read Gandhi.

I love you SO very much and I am watching you try to figure out how much to tell the truth and how much you can get away with 'fudge'. Even though you don't realize it you have a very odd expression in the very back of your eyes and around your mouth when you are "eating fudge'... so just like my Mom told me, and I will tell you, and you will tell your kids...here are some simple rules to help with the truth...

1)Your Mom always KNOWS when there is 'fudge' around...

2)Contrary to Gandhi the context of our family is not in flux and the TRUTH is not so very fluid.

3)The TRUTH is simply the truth, it IS ONLY ONE THING, it does not change depending on who is hearing it, and it certainly will not change no matter how much you want it to.

4)If you tell a lie you will get into double the trouble than if you tell us the truth.

5)When you ALWAYS tell the truth people feel like they can trust you, no one ever disbelieves you, you will be seen as a good honest person, someone to be relied upon... and that just feels good.

6)Telling the truth is simple, you will never get caught, and you never have to try to remember where you left the "fudge"....trust me it is much easier...

7)I will do the very best job I can to help you learn this very simple but ever so important TRUTH about life... because I love you...more than anything.

8)And because contrary to popular opinion...I REALLY don't like "fudge"...

Love you forever, Your Mom.

7 comments:

Beth said...

Children certainly do experiment with the truth - I guess it's all part of growing up. And it's amazing to watch them "try on" the lies to see what fits. For them, it seems to be a matter of not wanting to take blame. And they start so young! (i.e. Sam - age 2 - if I found something broken and knew he did it he would say, "Kissy did it." Chris was at school!)
With children, so much of teaching them about truth involves teaching them to be responsible for their own actions.
(Whew! Long comment - sorry!)
Love that letter to your son.

oreneta said...

Onderings on the nature of truth may warrent a post rather than a comment I have to admit. The other comment about slowing down. Boy, I could hear that a few times a day. Eldest mostly fudges by ommission. Youngest, fudges, then is racked by guilt and fesses up on her own.

Such fun. I am heading into the real lying years though. Adolescence. Yee haw!

oreneta said...

Here http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=12783 is a link to a blog that has a review of aphilosophy book about the relationship between truth and meaning. It looks a mite, um, heavy. I think Gandhi probably wrote better, but it may be interesting.

oreneta said...

Have you ever read Viktor E. Frankl's 'Man's Search for Meaning'? Now there is a book you HAVE to read.

Michelle said...

I am a cheat. I watched the movie, having never read Ghandi's book. I'm sure it didn't compare to the book, but very captivating nonetheless.

I love your list of rules regarding truth. I think I will use it as a lesson for my little ones who are beginning to 'fudge'.

Welfare Queen said...

children is good=more food stamps

P.A.Aneesh said...

hi...
very interesting...the way you pass on that message to your next generation...great...but, here in India, i really doubt whether the majority of current generation do anything of that sort...

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