“Integrity is telling myself the truth, and honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Spencer Johnson
God knows the “houseguest” is walking a fine line between that warm and welcome feeling and “I wish he’d leave.” On one of my yoga weekends several months ago while staying with a family, I walked into the kitchen to enjoy a morning coffee with my hosts and their very young children. I felt great, very welcome, and in the midst of a wonderful weekend. But the second the little girl saw me step foot in the kitchen, she screamed, “Mommy I thought you said he was leaving!!”
The mom was speechless. She reprimanded her daughter, apologized profusely, turned red in the face. I chuckled nervously and quickly changed the subject. But one thing was clear, those people wanted me OUT!
It’s one thing when adults lack a mental filter and say whatever happens to be on their mind. We often refer to them as “obnoxious,” “annoying,” “awful.” But when kids lack a filter and say whatever happens to be on their mind, it’s “hilarious,” “brilliant,” “adorable.”
Just a few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I visited a couple in their Venice home. The couple is just a few months from the birth of their second child, and their adorable 2 year old son has grown accustomed to touching and speaking to his mom’s ever-growing pregnant belly. After a full dinner, several glasses of wine, and way too much dessert, I sat down on the couch to relax. The little boy ran over to me, jumped in my lap, and began talking to my belly.
“What’s he doing?” I asked not totally understanding little children as I don’t yet have any.
My girlfriend turned away, holding in her about-to-be hysterical laughter.
“When’s your baby coming?” the little boy asked.
Why can honesty be so shocking? Because often, we fail to be honest with ourselves. We go days, weeks (in some cases years) without a moment of quiet reflection. For many (myself often included), the soul’s truth can be a lone vote against the mind’s dominating majority. And that leaves us feeling dazed and confused. Joseph Campbell said, “Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that as you get older the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are or what it is you intended.”
Whether it’s the obnoxiously unfiltered adults or the hilariously unfiltered children, maybe they are the normal ones. And we confuse their clinging to spirit as peculiar behavior, their odd dialect of truth as hard to comprehend. I challenge you as I challenge myself. Next time a cute tot or a bitchy blond dunks you into the chilly depths of God-honest truth, open your eyes. You might catch a glimpse of your soul… waiting, hoping, praying that you’ll visit more often.
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Originally published in 2009