A Little Truth

If I were asked whether I was for or against mixing art and politics, I would have to say “against.” Wait! Before you stop reading this column completely and forever, let me explain. Politics reminds me of the discussions and arguments I have with my wife. In one way, these conversations, however heated, are about what is happening at exactly this moment – how I seemed to stop listening in the middle of her story, how we always have the same things for dinner – and in another way they have absolutely nothing to do with what is happening at exactly that moment.

I have never had an argument with my wife that was not about the past, about a story we began telling ourselves about life long ago that neither of us liked, but we both felt required to keep telling if we were going to be good human beings. When we are arguing, we are really just saying, “Do we have keep telling this crap story? I don’t want to keep telling it, do you?” The argument ends when we both agree we can stop telling it, if only for the time being.

Art, meanwhile, is the end of the argument. Art’s arrow is aimed toward the truth that the argument was and is an illusion. Art creates arguments called stories so we can feel the truth of peace against the lie of war. For this reason, I have always turned to art to remind me what is true – not who is right.

Which reminds me of the rule my wife came up with the first year we were together: no one wins. That is, neither of us was allowed to win an argument. No one can create an argument by himself, and so the argument is never over until we both see how we contributed equally to it. I loved this rule, and have lived happily by it with her ever since. Arguments, in this way, are not competition, but a search for the truth, and the truth is always that we love each other.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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