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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Truth Fire


I recently wrote about how I’d had a falling out with someone. Eventually, Andrea and I got together with this person to hear them out. To unpack the misunderstanding. Smooth the roadmap out against the table to trace the jagged route of how we got there. And we agreed to move forward.

Then this quote busted into my head and would not leave. It stayed there, bouncing around and I couldn’t quiet the noise of it….

Really, the latter part of the quote had been rattling around in my head but I like the full quote so much that I’m sharing that here. All of us are all of those things at times. You can say you’re not, and I will say you’re full of shit. We can agree to disagree on that point. But I think we can both agree with Marilyn that if someone can’t handle you at your “worst” then they sure as hell don’t deserve you at your best. When you run into someone who only wants the best parts that you have to offer, keep running. Those people are not your people. They are not a member of your tribe. Your tribe is made up of people who have seen you at your worst. They have seen you when you’re a little selfish or impatient. They have seen you when you forget to use your inside voice and people turn and stare – a little horrified. They have heard you involuntarily burp during a workout and continue to workout with you anyway (right, Anne?). They have seen this, all of this, and they like you anyway. All of you. The good is easy to like but it comes with the “bad” or the less appealing parts of you. The yin and the yang. Chinese philosophy describes how the yin and yang, opposite or contrary forces, may in fact be complementary, interconnected and interdependent. You can’t separate those forces in people. And so it was, after Andrea and I met with this person, that I realized they were asking me to do just that. Enter Marilyn Monroe.

And I realized, no thank you. I want to spend my time with the people who have seen me fling open my closet doors and watched the skeletons tumble out and look at them and say, “That’s not so bad!” I’ve made friends with my skeletons and that wasn’t the particular issue here. The issue was that I spoke the truth. And, what’s more, is that I was right each time I opened my big mouth. It’s easy to filter out people who speak the truth but are wrong all the time. So this person whom Andrea and I met with wants to be friends with a watered down, censored version of me. That’s not who I am and that’s not how friendship works.

Yin and yang are thought of as complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light). And, according to wiki, “Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitusymbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section. The duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole.” The good and the bad. Perceptual. Not real.

This person, can’t handle the truth. Andrea calls what I say, “truth fire”, which always made me chuckle but never think about it much. When I asked her what that meant to her she replied, “It’s like the gospel. You know? Fire and brimstone. No holds barred.”

Which adds up to me being this guy…

I admittedly do not want to be Col. Nathan Jessup so that does leave me to consider this before I open my big mouth…

Because while I speak the truth, it may not always be helpful. Except in this case, where speaking my truth was helpful in my realization of what true friendship looks like. It’s messy sometimes – complete with burps. The good and the bad. The yin and the yang.


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