Another Day in the Country
Talking about the truth
© Another Day in the Country
When I was a child, I heard my preacher father talking a lot about Truth.
It was truth with a capital T at all times — absolute, concrete — and he knew what it was and thought it was his duty to expound upon it, weekly, to his congregation.
He was confident in his message, as were his parishioners, and thought it was his duty, as a minister, to proclaim Truth to all who would listen.
Maybe that’s why I picked up a book at the library a couple of weeks ago that I thought had the title “Truth.”
This ought to be an interesting read, I said to myself as I checked it out along with half a dozen other books. (I have a theory that about one book in four will be something I enjoy, so I always check out spare books since I don’t live close to the library to exchange them readily.)
That night, I opened the book and began to read. I was puzzled. This book was about a family gathering extreme wealth for themselves in the 1800s. It wasn’t exactly mesmerizing. I read on.
After several evenings of reading this book, attempting to figure out where it was going, I saw that the book was featured in a book review magazine I had picked up at the library called Book Page.
This little publication is filled with book reviews from each genre of books available, and I love reading the reviewers’ opinions and congratulate myself when I’ve already picked up one of their featured books to read.
Here, blazoned across the cover, I read, “Hernan Diaz, Pulitzer Prize finalist, treats historical fiction fans to a beautifully composed masterpiece.”
I’d labored through pages of his book several times, was getting nowhere, and was about to take it back to the library when I read that headline.
Well, Pat, I said to myself, obviously, you are missing something in this book. Read on. Concentrate. Look for the mysterious meaning. After all, the critics say it is a masterpiece.
So, I didn’t take it back to the library. Instead, I kept reading, searching for the mysterious meaning.
As I drove back and forth to exercise and get groceries, I kept thinking about that book. Truth. Maybe I’d write about truth in my column this week.
Thinking of my upbringing, with truth carefully outlined for me, knowing the truth was a very sacred thing, a privileged position.
I recall the Biblical stories of my childhood. Even Pilate, the ultimate villain, attempted to find the truth from the very man he was condemning to death. What have I learned?
Truth is elusive. We attempt to ferret it out when we hear the news. We search for it, expanding our understanding with books. We ask questions of our own selves and others. Perhaps, like me, you’ve discovered throughout your life that truth is never a black-and-white concept.
We wish it were so clear-cut, but always there are mediating circumstances, interpretations, bias. We choose a truth amidst shades of gray. We’re human, after all — not perfect.
The important part, I believe, is that we attempt to be truthful — keep searching, questioning, learning, defining, accepting truth as it reveals itself.
“Keep an open mind,” is my mantra. I repeated this to myself, several times as I kept reading my book.
I took the book back to the library and checked it in so someone else could check it out. I came back home and sat down to write my column.
Oh, there was a quote I wanted to remember from that book, and I didn’t write it down. In fact, I hadn’t written down the name of the author.
Where is that library magazine with the book reviews?
There it was on the nightstand. It even had a picture of the author and a picture of the book. I stopped and looked at the book cover, a familiar sea green, with the title in huge print right across the middle: “Trust.”
Trust? I thought the name of this book was “Truth.”
“Trust” by Pulitzer Prize finalist Hernan Diaz.
Finally, the book made sense. I guess you’ll have to read it to find out why.
Meanwhile, in my unending search for truth of some kind, i read the book from front to back and managed to find meaning in the story.
Truth is, no pun intended, this demonstrates the illusiveness of truth. We tend to see what we want to see. Two of us can see the same book cover and manage to see something different. It calls for us to keep looking, on another day in the country.