I had been thinking about truth for a long time, and could never quite get the thoughts to come out right and fit together, as well formed and careful thoughts ought to do. I felt I had to apologize to George, who lives in the basement apartment next door, for misleading him. I never meant to mislead him. I guess I just overpowered the man with my natural enthusiasm for my own thoughts and ideas. I know that a certain amount of self-confidence or enthusiasm is necessary for a sane life and a good self-image, but one can overdo. And I had overdone. Sorry.

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George said it was OK. He didn’t take what I said as the last word on any matter, and he was usually pretty good at flushing out the nonsense for himself.

I had described truth as a shiny three-dimensional thing with many facets, one facet for each person observing it, and with a life of its own. I thought that, although each of us had experienced much in common with others around us at any given time, yet each one of us was unique, because of each having experienced reality in our own way. And so, I thought, that if each of us sees a unique truth as filtered through the fabric of our own experience and unique point of view, then, each of us would see the truth in our own, unique, way.

Well, that’s wrong. Truth has no separate, independent existence. It’s not a thing. It’s not shiny and it has no facets. You can’t keep it, sell it, buy it, trade it, or lose it. You can conceal the truth, hide it, twist and distort it, take from it or add to it, or even threaten to reveal it at the best or worst of times. But no man owns the truth. It just comes to us from time to time, sits in our mind for a moment or two, and when it does, we are apt to say, “Well, ain’t that the truth!” Or, “Yea, Verily, Verily.”

We know it when we hear it. But you can’t see, smell, touch or taste the truth. Truth can only be heard, and when we hear it, we know it, because it makes sense and sounds right. Some say they seek truth, but my experience has been, that when you tell them the truth, they are apt to get angry with you and come back only sometime later to say, ‘Remember when you told me thus and so, and I got mad at you? You were right.’

As a matter of fact, truth is such a gossamer and evanescent thing, that when it comes right down to matters of life and death, and other serious stuff, we need 12 unbiased adults to agree unanimously on the nature of a truth, and is it, or isn’t it?

George said, “Yea, Verily, Verily,” gave me a big smile, and we are friends again.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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