The Beautiful Truth
by Jennifer Paros
Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to
-- Emily Dickinson
heard about an African tribe in which female members, early in
pregnancy, go off with other women to pray, intending to hear the
“song” of the spirit of the new child. Once the women intuit the
song, they sing it in celebration of the upcoming birth. When the
baby is born, the community sings it again, in welcome. And
whenever the child goes through a rite of passage, the group sings
the song in his honor. And if that tribe member does something
considered socially aberrant, the community encircles him and, once
more, sings the song. There is no punishment for the crime, only
the acknowledgement that this person has forgotten the song of the
spirit - who he really is.
of who we are is the best source for direction and guidance in the
creative process of writing or anything. The personality never
provides a true purpose; it provides an image and representation in
the world. It is more about outer form than inner content, which is
useful – just not as a compass for a meaningful journey.
purpose is fulfilled when we allow our intrinsic drive to love and
share lead us and let our image identity take its place as servant.
Otherwise, we forget our song.
Miller’s The Crucible, set during the Salem witch trials, the
main character, John Proctor, faces a painful dilemma of whether or
not to lie and confess to “communing with the Devil” in order to
save his life. The witch-hunt mentality is a frame of mind in which
fear and accusation carry the weight of “fact,” and judgment is
mistaken for inner wisdom. After realizing his confession will be
posted on the church door, he cries out in distress that he will not
even be left his “name.” In other words, how he identifies himself
in the world will no longer be an honest reflection of who he
really is. It is at that moment he tears up his confession and
goes to his death on the gallows. John Proctor remembers the song
of his spirit and cannot bear to disregard it.
find ourselves in a challenging situation, involved in drama that
seems to have power to overwhelm and sadden us, we are faced with
two realities: one driven by fear, the other residing below the
surface level of accusation and reaction. What lies there,
separate from the noise, is
Illustration by Jennifer Paros - Copyright 2012
are – not a story of who we are, but the beautiful truth,
distinct from our egos or personalities – what some call the
The truth is more important than the facts.
Frank Lloyd Wright
the great recalibrating factor. It is the key to resetting the
system when things go awry. But it must be purposefully and
intentionally felt. Since few of us have a group able to gather
round and sing us our song, we must go within and listen for
it. When this is done consistently, the beautiful truth inside us
becomes more and more the “factual” truth of our outside
naturally sets us on a path of going within to listen - often
specifically for the direction of characters or development of
plot. But we can also choose to listen for a nonspecific feeling,
a feeling that knows, a movement of energy that uplifts. And
then, whatever we create from that remembering, whether in the
day-to-day of our lives or in writing, can’t help but be our best
and of service to others.
When I am
“sniffing around an idea” (as Roald Dahl once put it) to see if I
want to pursue it as a story, I do my best to feel what is present.
If the idea enlivens and feels loving, it indicates I’m listening to
something other than a busy mind. I’m listening to my song, which is
the strongest foundation for any creative work or life direction.
story of The Crucible, John Proctor appears to surrender his
life, but in truth, he surrenders the form of his life, and
embraces the reality of who he is. Surrendering the form can mean
letting go of the book we thought we were writing for the book that
wants to be written, letting go of the life we thought we
should lead for the life wanting to live through us, or
letting go of who we thought we were or should be - in order
to hear our song and share its beautiful truth with the world.
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Jennifer Paros is a writer,
illustrator, and author of
Violet Bing and the Grand House
(Viking, 2007). She lives in Seattle.
Please visit her website at