Truth and Lies
I had written the piece below, and then removed it from this site... only to find it posted on someone else's web site! I reread it, and approved, so I brought it back home.
Here it is, back in the old format. It says what I wanted to say then; and it says what I still believe, now.
Over a lifetime, we get used to being lied to... we just come to expect it. After a while, we figure 'what's the use?' and we feel dead inside.
We get depressed and go on Prozac so as to live more easily with the lies. We figure if everyone else believes this, it must be true. We accept the consensual agreement in a false reality, because we're afraid to face the truth which lies within us.
The justice and the wisdom of our native selves, the bioenergetic meaning of truth, runs counter to our teachings, our news broadcasts, our sitcoms, our group-think, our religions, our social engineers, our national leaders and our parental upbringing, not to mention our neighbors' opinion of us.
So we evade, distort, reconcile, and obfuscate our selves. We compromise on the one thing that we should never compromise on: our natural, inborn, true selves. We stop worshipping the only thing that can ever truly be an object of worship:
What is truth? Truth is what we biologically know is true. What is right? Right is what we instinctively know is right.
How can it be that we believe our eyes or our ears or our brains when our senses and our bellies and our instincts tell us otherwise? Why do we want to believe the propaganda in a silly TV show when we know that real life is not a TV show?
And who, then, is a hero or heroine?
Simply someone who honors what they know in their bellies, relies on what they feel with their senses, trusts in what they believe with their instincts.
I know that many people's truth is a consensual construct (a lie). It is none of my business what they believe about me or about anyone else. I have a job to do, and no time or need to explain myself. But lies have destructive capacity; they destroy lives.
The lie of the Nazi was that the Jew was inferior*. It was a lie. And it was vile, and, to this day, many many people still believe this hideous distortion of their own diseased humanity. They are contaminated. They carry the emotional plague of mankind*.
Group-think is far from benign.
This is why I am not a joiner; not a good team-player.
It is why slogans and patriotism are anathema to my personal, inner truth.
It is why I never feel at home with agenda-driven groups and or organizations devoted to political or social reform: in my experience, the group always splinters into factions, cells, and categories.
The group becomes a microcosm of the social system it was determined to change. In the end, the infighting and jealousy, the head-banging and name-calling, the labeling and prejudicial airs become no better than the macrocosm it emulates and duplicates.
I am all alone, one within myself.
This is what makes me totally human, original, and free. This is why I don't need Prozac, don't need alcohol, don't need drugs, and don't need groups. I do need friends, but only a few... and very truthful, and very faithful ones.
This is why I can fly when I play; it is why so many people can fly with me when I play. It is why my CDs sell while other, faster, greater pianists' CDs don't sell half as well. I am in LOVE when I play, with my life, with my self, with my magical gift.
This is why I am a jazz musician when I could be in any number of other much higher-paying occupations with much less discrimination. And it is why I won't ever conform to the way others play or think I should play. It is why I will never be a good little band-member.
It is why I am a leader.
It is why I choose to play only with musicians who are not driven by ego but by spirit, not by competition but by love.
It is why I play alone, fearlessly.
My truth is in front of me, behind me, around me, and within me. I am surrounded by the truth of my life. And it is good.
Someone said of my playing, 'If you go to New York City and play a clichÈ or a quote, they won't let you play at all.' 'They' meaning the men in charge.
Let me play? Why would I want to play for people who would stop me from being me and doing what I do? Why would I bother? And why is New York City the only place that this law applies? What about Seattle? Des Moines? Oakland? Is this law posted on signs in public places where quotes might be played? Is there a fine, or the risk of imprisonment?
In truth, that person (a well-known jazz musician) believes that lie. He lives that lie every time he plays, and it cripples his self-expression, because he always has to edit every single phrase he plays to make sure that he never, ever quotes from another piece of music.
What a cross to bear! Miles and 'Trane never had to be so terrified of breaking a law like that. If there were a law, Dexter broke it a thousand times a night.
Lies are like that. They cripple free will. They invade a life and turn that life to stone. We wind up thinking of ourselves as victims.
Life is about expression and movement and free will; about dynamism and flux and change and growth. About getting knocked down and getting back up. About doing the right thing.
The right thing won't make you popular. Or famous. Or well-liked. It won't make you more money, and it might cost you everything. It might cost you your life.
Some call that stupid.
I call it truth. To me, that's the right thing.