lies.

You’re only as sick as your secrets.
— Rick Warren

It's a subtle way I lie. Like Krebs in A Soldier's Home, I learned as a striving raconteur that if you fib just a tad, stories become more exciting and interesting; however, lie too much and people can smell exaggeration. I also learned at an early age that lies can make someone more sympathetic toward you; unfinished homework caused by food poisoning is my version of the dog ate my homework. Again, if you lie too often or use the same lie too much, you risk being revealed as a liar.

Life isn't as simple as Dr. Seuss tried to tell us. These habits I picked up early are helpful if not morally ambiguous. Being late for good reason gets less scorn than being late and telling the truth. My joke lies on the edge of hyperbole, but certainly it was more entertaining than non-fiction. On some level blame lies on the people for whom excuses work, which really is to say I have a problem with authority. Fellow humans who have asserted themselves over me by either pretense or circumstance will always have my suspicion. Someone claiming everyone isn't equal receives my patriotic indignation.

But this is about lying and the way I use it as a political tool. Radiolab, an NPR program, did an hour on goodness; in it, they interviewed a man who learned to read people's faces deeply. He learned how to tell when someone was lying, when someone was saying one thing and feeling another. So he learned how much ordinary people lie. In an effort to make himself more wholesome, he started to go without lying. At first he found it really difficult, but he said it makes for an interesting challenge, to make an effort not to be diplomatic and charming, but instead be simply honest. I do enjoy a challenge, so I'm also making an effort to be less fake and gain a little more integrity.

Because, after all, you're only as sick as your secrets.