Personal Truth vs. Factual Truth


Rereading old stories often sparks new insights. Ditto with old blog posts. En route to finding an old post about something else, I found “My Brain on Story.” That post is based on an incident where a witness to a mock crime testified that what turned out to be a plastic water pistol was the gun that fired the shot she heard.  Rereading the post led me to reconsider the controversy about Truth I reported there. My son-in-law’s adamant position was that although the perception that a water pistol was a bullet-firing weapon was real, it was not true. I disagreed, clinging to my assertion that the perception was true.

Today a flash of insight penetrated my skull. Sally’s perception of an actual gun and speeding bullets was personal truth  or perceived truth. The documentable fact that the gun was a water pistol was factual truth. While not every instance of questionable truth has documentable evidence to prove it “right or wrong,” in this situation , the matter can be settled. I still maintain that each form of truth is equally valid, but I’ll concede they are different.

Bottom line, in my opinion, it still does not matter. We’re still talking about terminology and the fact that perceived or personal truth plays a powerful role in our lives.

Sally’s personal truth that a pistol was aimed at her and that shots were fired is still as true today as the day it happened in 1984. I did not stay in contact with Sally, but I can say with absolute certainty that she remembers that personal truth, how real it was, and how stunned she was to hold the water pistol. I’m willing to wager that her life turned a corner that day.

The timing of this discovery is amazing. Life has intervened, and that new volume of advice for writing your lifestory is not finished, though I’m deeply engrossed in it again. I believe it’s no coincidence that I’m currently working on the chapter on memory and truth.

This flash of insight holds two jewels for that chapter:

1. Truth comes in at least two versions, maybe more. Each or all are equally valid, just different.

2. Insight and understanding evolve. I’ve written about this before. Lessons sink in and begin to grow when their seed sprouts, and some seeds can take a long to sprout.

My life is full of slow-cooker lessons and evolving understanding. What are some things you’ve been slow to learn?


Karen Walker said...

Ooh, I love your writing, Sharon. And this post is so true (ha ha) for me. Everyone comes to life and situations with their own perceptual fields and people will view the same thing very differently. All we can do is learn to speak our own truth.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thank you Karen. Viva diversity!

Linda said...

Excellent, Sharon. Thanks for explaining this complicated reality. I especially like your words, "Lessons sink in and begin to grow when their seed sprouts, and some seeds can take a long to sprout. My life is full of slow-cooker lessons and evolving understanding." So true.

Sharon Lippincott said...

Thank you Linda. I'll bet you could fill a book yourself with slow cooker lessons! Your wealth of experience in far flung places must be a diamond that glitters with every color as it moves in the light.