I told a lie this morning. Just a little lie, one of those "white" jobs, nothing really awful but nonetheless a lie. And if you can believe it, I told the lie to the gardener! Of all people! To begin with, why would I possibly have felt the necessity to lie to the gardener! The only thing I know about him is his first name. But there it is! Within minutes of my resurrection this morning I had succeeded to contaminate my existence by telling a lie.
As curious as anyone might be, I have no intention of divulging the lie. It's too trite and too embarrassing. Which I guess is a good thing because it doesn't carry a lot of import. As I say, just one of those "little white lies", a small, guileless lie, yet admittedly a lie and intended to mislead. Of course within moments of my ethical indiscretion I contemplated trying to reverse it but, aside from the awkwardness, the only way I could imagine doing so with impunity was to tell another little white lie (basically some purported excuse that I had "misunderstood" the original question).
I have at last confronted this moral turmoil by deciding to let it go. If by some unfortunate coincidence I should have to endure cross-examination then I shall rely upon the line, "Oh, I must have misunderstood the question!" Nothing whatever turns upon this other than the pollution of my integrity. It is a reminder that we're all less than sterile; we all have toxins. I take the liberty of casting the net broadly to include others because lately I have been contemplating the particular weaknesses of others whom I know, specifically my friends. For some peculiar reason I got it into my head that it would be a pleasing exercise to create a caricature of each of my friends to afford a disguised platform for ridiculing them. On the heels of this latest complication in my own life the steam has rather gone out of that humorous project. I can't but think the exhaustion is fortuitous. Anyway apart from the general inutility of running other people into the ground, I had already concluded that each of my friends had sufficient reasons to excuse what I might have briefly fashioned to be their failings. Meanwhile the admonition "Don't be too hard on yourself!" kept ringing in my head. The clear extension of such charity is that injudiciousness is likely as applicable to others as to oneself. How comical it is that we become trapped into imaging we should be stainless when we hardly think so of others; and yet when we prove our own discolouration, we remarkably forget we're in good company! I am as a result in the uncomfortable position of having neither pride nor ridicule to console me. Each is equally disadvantageous under present circumstances. How much easier it is to make oneself taller when standing on others! But admission of fault and inadequacy hardly reinforces the posture. If anything, a drop of conscience has eradicated the stain of mendacity.
The harder admission is that I have a pattern of distorting the truth either by direct mis-statement or by less offensive coyness about the truth. If it is any palliative of my misconduct, the level of misinformation is normally unimportant and non-critical. It's just that I am so clinical about what I am saying that I condemn anything I say which is less than entirely true even if there were no compelling need to share the full truth with another. Perhaps my greater concern is not so much the imperative of truth as my inclination to alter the facts to suit my perception of the circumstances. For example, one might say that a meal was fine without having to condemn it, just to avoid hurting someone's feelings. A lie? Less than true? Maybe. But really, who cares! Sometimes the prying enquiries of others evoke resistance which in turn precipitate defensive mis-statement. It annoys me that I feel the need to cushion my sentiments when I feel cornered; but sometimes I just haven't the energy to formulate a response fully or to deal with the possible consequences of the frozen truth.
But if I am to cling to my scruples I mustn't attempt to dilute my offence or deflect the punishment. What perhaps matters most in these circumstances is to confess the error and learn from it. No amount of taradiddle will alter the bare facts. In this Court of Self-incrimination I not only sit upon the Woolsack but also lead the charge for the Prosecution and the Defence. This is a private matter like a dirty little family secret. The relief is the significance of my blunder; or should I say, the relief is the insignificance of my blunder. Yet what a painful road experience can be at times!