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I Believe

When I was four, my grandpa was diagnosed with mouth cancer. A lot of parents, at my age, would say pretty falsehoods to disguise the painful struggle he was enduring, but I was allowed to witness each step in his gradual journey towards death. I knew that it was the sores in his mouth that prevented him from speaking and eating. I even helped feed him through the tube they had to place in his stomach. When he died, three weeks after my fifth birthday, my mom handed me a book on death to let me learn that it didn’t mean green fields and vacations. Death meant never coming back. Some may think that my exposure to all he went through wasn’t right for a child, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Because I knew that my time with him had shortened to months rather than years, I was able to appreciate the time I had left with him instead of wasting it away as children often do. Most importantly, that allowance to walk into my grandparents’ house every day to go play Barbie with a skin-and-bones, tube-wrapped version of my grandfather led to the formation of one of my deepest philosophies: even the ugliest truth is better than a kind lie.


Saying the simple truth is never the easiest choice to make. When you learn something worrisome in a new relationship with someone you’re crazy about, it’s always easier to brush it aside with the line “It doesn’t matter.” When someone asks you a question and you know the answer will offend them and cause conflict or pain, the simple way out is to just tell a little lie. But these lies and brush offs manifest and grow as the truth never will. They turn into something dark and poisonous that can change even a mild rain storm into a raging hurricane if given enough time. An easily ignored pebble at the beginning of a relationship turns into a jagged boulder that tears apart any love and turns that brush off into heartbreak. The small lie made to prevent conflict grows out of control until it forms a mask that can change an entire personality or destroy a life. Witnessing events such as these reinforced my belief that choosing between the lie and the truth is like choosing between good and bad karma: an obvious choice once you look ahead at the consequences


To prevent from the bad karma of a lie, I at least chose to always tell the hard truth to myself. This practice branches off into every other belief I possess. It was not lying to myself that made me look down at a hamburger years ago and see the flesh of a dead cow that spent its final moments waiting in line to be shot in the head and skinned. From this truth, I decided to stop eating meat. When I make a stupid decision or someone hurts me and I don’t want to go to anyone else, my mind is the one refuge I can always turn to for comfort or criticism because I’ll always be able to admit which one it is I need. This is what only truth can do for you.

I have been learning this since the moment my grandpa’s smoking caught up with him and manifested into mouth cancer. A hard truth is not consoling or easy. It will not sooth or wipe away the tears. It can only give you an anchor to trust in through the whirlwind that it releases. And that anchor will make you strong in a way that the cushioned lie never will. For this, I will always believe in my ugly truth.


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