The so-called underbelly of humanity – that dark, seamy and often vulnerable side – is not exactly topical though for anyone who has lived with another for any length of time the realties hardly constitute confessions of the first order. Rather those unspoken truths are at best the camouflaged details of our genetic makeup. The way some people characterize themselves you’d think they hadn’t any bodily functions at all and that the human strain is but a contamination of their ethereal nature!
The blunt inner contemplations which occasionally percolate to the surface are generally not matters we’re anxious to publicize. Very often the admission is preceded by the declamation, “I couldn’t possibly say that!” which is to say, “I damn well wish I could!” Nonetheless most of us rein it in and muzzle the garrulousness at least for the time being though later it may unwittingly seep into casual conversation.
While it excites the imagination to speculate that each of us harbours an undisclosed secret, that conjecture is best reserved to the script writers of a James Bond movie series. Witnessing the antics of a baby or visiting a decrepit family member in the hospital pretty much insures we’ve glimpsed all there is to see of a personal nature. As for more exotic disclosure – jewel heists or even petty crime – the most one can hope for is a published version written from a gaol cell. Unless there is some commercial advantage to its unveiling it isn’t likely to be prompted by the gratification of public purification.
The more probable vernacular for hidden agenda and disguised sentiment is everyday communication and interaction. Driven by both conventional social etiquette and expediency we avoid the complications and extenuations of truthfulness and revelation. Customary repartee is an intricate web of petty lies. One must be quick-witted to discern and interpret the many nuances which characterize these exchanges. It frequently forces the point to insist upon an open admission of intent as though we’re unsatisfied with the strength of our logical conclusion. It further begs the question, “Who do you think you’re kidding?” Deceit requires extraordinary skill and few if any of us are a match for its exigencies. In the result we’re likely to succeed only to fool ourselves but no one else.
The value of discretion as a governor of hysterical outbursts is however not to be diminished. There are alternate avenues along which the truth will out. It isn’t always the harshness of its delivery which supplements its content though there can certainly be rhetorical advantage. But unless you’re intent upon making a scene there are other ways of telling it like it is. Who hasn’t yearned to speak their mind from time to time? The introduction of the candid material must include a confirmation of its personal importance. Mere rude and withering observations do not count. So far as I am aware not even animals derive any pleasure from such gratuitous behaviour. But an honest rendition of one’s boundaries and intentions is a benefit to all parties. If we spent more time directing our attention to what we wanted to say than what we wanted to hide, we’d probably alleviate life’s perpetual struggles. Obfuscation is by definition bewildering.
Oddly the last person to whom we’d care to admit the secret details of ourselves is us! The particulars may involve things we’ve done and things that have been done to us. Often we’re unprepared to admit to them because of a sense of regret or embarrassment. To deal with those matters we may prefer instead to spend a lifetime of ignorance or dedicated to dilution of their import. Equally strange about these private admissions is that their greatest alarm is to us not others. We can however derive comfort from knowing that none of us is spared the rigour of this unvoiced knowledge. In fact it would probably surprise us to discover that others have similar experiences under wraps.