A friend rang me “Eileen – is it true that you were in a bar once at Christmas with Noddy Holder and the Slade Christmas song started playing?”. “Nooooo” I assured her, “I was not in bar with Noddy Holder, I was in a bar that Noddy Holder was in“. She rushed me on “Yeh, yep – same thing. I was just telling Lucy and she said she didn’t believe me so I wanted to ring you to prove to her”. I tried to clarify again and said I had tweeted about it recently? “Yep, yep – Lucy loves Noddy Holder….”
As I only get star struck about John Wayne or Dolly Parton – I couldn’t see the fuss but it was interesting how she put her own truth to the story and was irritated that I needed to clarify the exact truth. Ironically, the exact truth was more interesting, I think, than her version. I was sitting in a bar at Christmas, alone waiting for friends, and saw that there was one other person at the bar, Noddy Holder, when all of a sudden the famous Slade Christmas song came over the music system. It wasn’t that weird but it was a bit weird. But anyway – the point is that it wasn’t the story my friend wanted to tell so she stuck to her version.
I guess we all do that, day in and day out – we adapt and edit things to create our own little truths to make up a bigger truth that suits, do we not? Small exaggerations to spice up a story or often small tinkering with a story to make it fit our own version of the truth.
Nowhere is this more prevelant than when mediating or counselling a couple or group. I am tempted to go so far as to say there is no such thing as truth where more than one person is involved because there will be two truths, my absolute and your absolute.
For that reason, I don’t strive for the truth when working with families otherwise the session would just get bogged down with “No I didn’t – you said a,b,c and I only said x,y,z….” When families are in trouble for any reason, the search for truth, with a huge metaphorical magnifying glass, is produced: “when you said that, you then denied you had said it, but x heard you and I believe x more than I believe you….>” I search instead for the general vision of future harmony when their focus is not so much on the rudiments of “the truth” but on accepting that “sometimes things get misunderstood, sometimes people offend another without meaning to, sometimes people say things they don’t mean at the time and, of course, a family running healthily won’t be on guard for who said what to whom about what….” Am I beginning to sound like Donald Rumsfield?
On that note, what Donald Rumsfield actually said “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” is actually intellectually correct and, according to linguist Geoffrey Pullum, “impeccable – syntactically, semantically, logically, and rhetorically”. If anyone else had said it, we would no doubt be producing it as a fridge magnet but because all the media commentators immediately lambasted him for this as foolishness, I instinctively believed it was indeed foolish because I had my own agenda about him (nothing sophisticated – just a dislike and distrust) I immediately bought into the truth that most suited me.
So – I wonder how long it will be before my friend is telling her friends that I spent the evening with Noddy Holder, drinking into the small hours while he sang that Christmas song to me personally and asked me if I wanted to be a roadie? Not a bad story really – shame it only went on in my head…..