A little white lie never hurt anyone, so the old saying goes. I am a huge believer in karma, but now and again, I am prone to telling a white lie or two. I never speak lies that hurt others. Of course, one could argue that lying, even lying by omission is dishonest and hurtful.
Sometimes it is suggested that lying becomes habitual, like a drug for those who wish to make their lives seem grander than they actually are. If this is the case, then a story could be seen as a lie because it allows me to be someone else while I am reading or writing. I get to live the life of another. I get to experience a grandness that I am not privy to in the real world.
You could say that I am addicted to books and to stories and that it is through books and stories that I have become a liar. I have been an avid reader and writer since I was very young. I read and write to escape, to forget, to live a life that my true self never could. But, when the story ends, I return to my simple self with all my flaws, my loneliness, and my desires.
Writers are natural liars. We create new worlds, people and stories out of thin air. We create these worlds so completely that readers become engrossed and their lives are changed by what they read and experience in the realities that we have conjured. Sometimes those stories leak into the real world. My characters’ personalities become a part of my real world persona and I am able to switch into their mode or manner just like you would downshift a car. And thus, my fictional lies can become real ones.
My most recent little white lie is perhaps one of omission and it is a lie that manifests in the real world, not in my imagination or on paper. It did not come from a story of my own making. This little white lie is comprised of the story that others write in their minds about me. I wear an ankle brace for all workouts and athletic excursions now because I broke my ankle kickboxing right before Christmas in 2012. The ankle is mostly healed but still a little unsteady. Whenever I tell people that I broke my ankle kickboxing, they automatically assume that I was kicking somebody’s ass. I’m not a big person by any means. I’m pretty feminine and rather petite. But people always think I was sparring when I broke my ankle. I’m not sure why they assume that this is the story behind the break.
Frankly, I don’t typically bother correcting them because I really like the story they have written in their minds about me. I like watching their eyes get really big as they take it all in. They see me as rough, tough, and maybe even a little sexy—though that last one is probably just wishful thinking on my part.
My lie does leave behind a pang of guilt. I feel that I have misled those who do not know me by allowing them to think I am a bad ass hand-to-hand fighter. I am not that person they believe me to be. In reality, I am an extrovert with introverted tendencies, a person who is a people-pleaser at the core. I am competitive but not known for violence. Kickboxing is strictly for exercise and has become a good emotional outlet to boot.
If someone were to ask me specifically if I was sparring someone when I broke my ankle, I would tell them the truth, for in reality, I am not a very good liar outside of the world of stories. The truth, while not nearly as exciting, is still a story in and of itself.
So if I wasn’t sparring when I broke my ankle, what exactly was I doing? We were doing “Mountain Climbers” with these rubber bands wrapped around our waists. Somehow I must have come down wrong on my right foot. It popped loud enough that everyone could hear it over the music. And I didn’t realize it was broken for 2 months. That’s the real story. It’s not exciting or sexy. But it’s the truth.
A person is composed of stories, whether they be truths or lies that they or others have written. I embody two stories: the first being the lie that I allow others to believe about the circumstances surrounding my injury. The second being the truth of how I injured myself. If I continued to tell the lie, it is possible that it could eventually be accepted as truth. History is made of stories, typically written by the winner and as time passes, we can never be sure if the truth that has been recorded is wholly the truth. This is because the voices of the ones who have been overtaken fade and are eventually lost to the past altogether. Only the voices of the winners seem to survive. In the realm of fiction, a story is given as truth, but as it winds you down its path and envelopes your world with that of its own, it becomes a lie. It may not be a malignant or belligerent sort of lie but a lie it is for it is a mask drawn over your eyes.