To tell the truth, he wasn’t really interested in the truth.
He was just an ordinary guy, who made an extraordinary find, in the most mundane of all places- a library.
He didn’t have a remarkable name- Steve. He didn’t have a remarkable mind; he wasn’t a physicist, math wizard, or Nobel Laurette. He was a maintenance worker for the City.
He didn’t have a remarkable life. He lost his High School sweetheart to his best friend, he almost made the baseball team, almost made the basketball team, and almost had a “B” average in both High School and College. He almost got married- twice.
He made it to his forties comfortable with a job that paid slightly more than minimum wage but came with benefits, paid vacation, and longevity. He kept the libraries up and running until the high mucky mucks can decide what to do with all those outdated books, that was his job, and he was good at it. He could spot water damage, mold, dry rot, and carpenter ant tracks like a NASCAR fan can track car numbers at Talladega- with a quick glance and absolute certainty. He didn’t like metal bookshelves, he preferred wooden bookshelves as he felt they lent a certain patina of age and accumulated knowledge to the tomes lined up on them.
After the initial shock of the finding the Truth and its aftermath in the media, (Social,Digital and Personal) Steve no longer had a job. He no longer had a career, privacy, or friends. Nope. Steve found the Truth, and nobody wanted to know it. Oh, sure, they SAID they did. But. Not. Really. What people wanted was THEIR Truth to be true. No ex spouse wanted to hear that their former lover, partner, true love, was actually: a kind, generous, thoughtful, caring, and nice person. Nope. They needed a Truth that would let them believe it was okay to end the relationship, marriage, or partnership.
No parent wanted to hear the Truth. “Your child is lazy, shiftless, unmotivated, and never applies any effort to change that.” No child wanted to hear: “The truth is, you just aren’t very good at that.” No athlete wanted to hear: “The truth is, you aren’t good enough to make the team, even with the massive effort you have made to be good enough. You did out perform yourself, and that is admirable, but still, you aren’t performing well enough to make the team.”
The worst Truth of all, and the most obvious one: we are all average. Well, we all know what folks think of that. We all want to be special. Funnily enough, most of us are special to someone, or even some few, but we take that for granted. We miss most of life’s special moments, because they appear so average and mundane. A healthy body, a clear mind, someone to love, a full belly, a child’s trust, a job well done, passing a difficult test, surviving grief or loss with humor and grace- not many folks realize how special those moments are. None more special than feeling like you love someone, or are loved by someone. Sunlight, clean air, clear water, breathing, walking, laying on the grass looking at clouds, sitting in sand on the shore of a lake, ocean, pond, or even a puddle- these and so many more moments- are so special that Poets, Songwriters, Painters , Photographers, and Musicians all try and capture those moments in their art.
But we digress. For we were talking about Truth, and Steve, the poor guy who found it. He told the Truth about: The Truth, sealing his fate. Notice he did not find Honesty. The truth is hard to handle, but one hundred percent honesty? That is a horse of an entirely different color. As the famous Truth Teller Mark Twain (who’s very name was untrue) once said:
“Human beings could never handle one hundred percent honesty, and luckily, none will ever have to.”
The Truth might hurt, but honesty ravages you to the bone. Very few offer an honest opinion on any thing, opting for either the easier slippery truth, or the carefully molded honesty that will leave the listener with the least amount of soul scars. Tact, grace, compassion, are all ways to soften the blow of Honesty. Sometimes we even tell the truth when being honest, but never the whole truth, just the parts that might be true for them.
So... Steve found the Truth. It was in a small book, laying harmlessly on a bottom shelf. Like it had fallen down to the floor, and a lazy person just kicked it off the carpet or wooden floor, onto the nearest nearby shelf. To lay there on a crooked angle until some harried underpaid, underutilized librarian or (more likely) a young volunteer picked it up off the bottom shelf to reshelf it, in its true location. It wasn’t a big book. It had an elegant cover, simple, but elegant, as most true things are. The title was in gilded gold block letters: The Truth. There was no author: listed, named, or inscribed. It was old. Very old. The Truth itself is ageless, but it is true that things age. So it is with this little volume, a seemingly contradictory adjective/noun pair. Volume implies space, yet little squeezes it down. It is why big truths are in little things; a baby, a thought, a word.
Steve picked up the book. He laughed at first, for who would title a book this thin : “The Truth. “ He had heard the Bible referred to as “The Truth”, and many believed their Bible to be True, not the other fellows Bibles. That’s true too. But it isn’t the Truth. When he opened the book and read the short paragraphs, he didn’t sit down, as much as he slid from standing up to sitting down. If the aisle hadn’t been so narrow, he might not have stopped at sitting. He might have actually pooled like a puddle on the floor. No one should know :
"The Truth.” At least without some warning. Steve had none. He thought he had picked up a well wrought bound book of indiscriminate age- not the actual Truth.
I would tell you what it said. After all, this story is longer than the entire contents of “The Truth.” But I won’t. I wasn’t brave before Steve found “The Truth,” and I am certainly not any braver since I saw how the world treated him. And that is true too. I can only give you the one hint that the book gives on page two:
“If you are looking for "The Truth," and stop at one, you are wasting your time.”