on being honest

It wasn’t what he said. It hid and couched itself in the words, yes, but it wasn’t what he said. I had learned that about him early on, years ago. Back when I was still learning. He spoke about french musicians, but I watched the way he held his coffee mug; the way he set it down and picked it up between sentences like taking breaths. There were long stretches of silence in our life in which no one was honest. I remember because it was winter and the Olympics were on and I spent the morning watching figure skating; the women flying across the ice and taking diving falls that ruined their whole life. And I remember being aware that I couldn’t quite grasp what these moments meant for them and that I could never in my life be so wholly dedicated to one singular thing. That was the same year I learned what the difference was between telling the truth and being honest. The truth is easy, it’s factual and it’s surface level and it’s the “right” thing to do. But honesty, that takes place behind the words, between the sentences, like veins that run through all the beating parts of us. The only way I can describe it, the feeling of knowing you are being honest, is the look on the faces of those figure skaters before they leapt: the faith in knowing they were capable, the terror in knowing they could loose everything, and the freedom in doing all of it anyway.

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