Reality and Perception – When the Truth is Deceived by Lies

Some people would rather bury their head in the sand than to see the truth.
Some people would rather bury their head in the sand than to see the truth. | Source

Truth and Perception

I was watching a movie about King Tut the other day and in one of the scenes, the vizier said to King Tut, “There is no real truth in this world, only one’s perception of it.” It is a fairly profound statement and it reminded me of a story about a woman who became prey to the conflict between reality and perception.

True Story

The following story is true. The names and specific details of the event have been camouflaged to protect the innocent.

This story is about a woman named Gabriele who is caught between the reality of truth and the perception of lies.

Gabriele is a 67 year old woman. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Terrance since she was 20 years old. Folks, that’s 47 years! It would appear that Gabriela and Terrence have a strong, reliable relationship. You’re about to find out that appearances can be deceiving.

Gabriela is an artist who has sold many paintings throughout her years. Now, with computers, most of Gabriella’s artwork is created using graphic software. She creates architectural renditions of proposed buildings such as shopping centers and mega buildings in metropolitan cities. Her work has been acclaimed by the architectural society and she has been commissioned by notable building designers from all over the world. The advancement of technological communication, such as cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and Skype allow Gabriele the ability to accept assignments and deliver completed designs electronically. In most cases, she has never met her clients face-to-face.

One of Gabriela’s clients is Clarence Zimmerman, the famed architect who designed several shopping malls in Europe. He happens to live in Texas. So, when Gabriela discovered that this year’s family reunion was going to be held in Texas, Gabriela jumped with excitement at the opportunity to meet her client face-to-face. She spoke with her husband Terrence who immediately objected to his wife meeting with a man in a city she is not familiar with.

“Now, listen…” Gabriella tried to explain to her husband that her client was not a strange man, “Clarence Zimmerman is well-known and has been my biggest client for…”

Terrence interrupted, “He’s a man!”


“He’s a man.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Terrence paused with a look on his face which showed thoughts that his beautiful wife had gone insane. Terrance generally did not attend the family reunions and this year was no exception. This meant that if Gabriela was to meet her client, she would be meeting him without her husband. Terrence asked his wife why she couldn’t see that it was inappropriate for her to meet with another man when he wasn’t present. “It just doesn’t look good,” he said.

Gabriela and Clarence intermittently carried on this conversation for several days. Ultimately, Clarence decided that it would be alright for Gabriela to meet her client so long as it was in a situation where other family members were present. Gabriela consented to only meet the client during one of the family outings.

The Family Reunion

OK, people, now here is where the quote about truth and perception really comes into play.

This year, finances were tough for many of the siblings, so this year, the matriarch of the family bought tickets for all the siblings so there was no excuse for anyone to bow out of the reunion for financial reasons. Each year, the family visited the state in which a particular family member resides. This year, the mother, three sisters and two brothers would travel to Texas to visit the home of the youngest brother Tim’s house. All the siblings and mother arrived at the airport in Texas on the same day at approximately the same time and Tim arrived at the airport curbside to pick them up and transport them to Tim’s huge Texan hacienda, located on a nice piece of acreage out on a ranch far from town. It was going to be a nice little reunion. At least, that’s how it all started in the van on the road to the ranch.

The conversation was lively with joy and laughter as the family talked about what they wanted to do and see while they were in Texas. When asked, Gabriela, the oldest sibling, said she had plans to meet her client while she was there. Everyone thought it was a great idea until they discovered that her client was a male. All of a sudden, it seemed like the van stopped and all things screeched into reverse. Silence overwhelmed the small space in the van.

The first words heard were from her mother who said, “What?”

Then, her sister youngest sister Tamera felt compelled to add her spin to the story, “She’s talking about hooking up with some dude, Mom!”

The mother continued with, “I paid for this trip and no daughter of mine is going to go prancing around town with some strange man.”

Tim chimed in, “Yeah, that’s kind of messed up, sis.”

“Yeah,” the oldest brother Allen added, “How would you like it if Terrance was out gallivanting with some hot chick while you were here?”

“Not cool, big sis… not cool.” That comment came from the middle sister, Carmen.

Gabriela managed to speak, “You guys have it all wrong.” Surprised to be able to continue, Gabriela explained, “I’m not hooking up with anybody. I just thought that if we were out and about, I could invite my client to meet the family and… well, I’d finally have a chance to meet him face-to-face, and that’s all.”

Then, just about everyone in the van took turns sharing their opinion.

Mom, “Nope!”

Allen, “It ain't right, sis.”

Carmen, "You're a married woman."

Gabrielle, “It’s not like we’re meeting in secret.”

Oldest sister Ellen, “It doesn’t matter; it’s what it looks like.”

Then Tim piped in with, “Yep! Sis. Life isn’t about what’s true or not true, it’s what people think that matters and if you come all the way here to Texas and hook up with some dude you’ve never met, well, it just doesn’t look right.”

Gabriela’s youngest sister, Tamera sealed the deal with her unbound wisdom, “Yeah, perception is closer to the truth than the truth itself.”

Silence fell into the van’s cabin once again and that was the end of the discussion.

Gabriela sat angry, looking from one sibling to another and wondered why her middle brother Steve, never contributed a word toward the conflict. For the next fifteen minutes, no one spoke a word until Tim parked the van into one of six parking spots of his expansive garage.

I Know What You’re Thinking

Folks, I know what you’re thinking. When I heard this story, I thought about it too. Gabriela is a grown woman, elderly by most cultures. Why in the world would Gabriela let the opinions of her family sway her from meeting with her client in spite of their opposition? I think, at the end of the day, Gabriela had to consider that her mother paid for her ticket to the reunion and now if Gabriela did break away from the family to meet her client, then although it would not be true, it would appear that Gabriela was, indeed, meeting the man for more than business.

Appearances Are Everything

There is a constant battle between truth and lies. The limited ability of our human mind can only conceive and make reasoning out of what we see combined with our own personal experiences or what we have been taught to believe, whether truth or lies we tell ourselves in an effort to make sense of the things we see and experience in the world. And so for this, appearances are everything. The truth doesn’t matter when appearances “show” otherwise. So long as Gabriela’s family had their preconceived notion of Gabriela’s true intentions, their opinions (lies) won the battle.

The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

© 2015 Marlene Bertrand

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Comments 42 comments

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 10 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you Robert Sacchi. I have finally grown to realize that reality is what people think it is, whether it is true or not.

Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 10 months ago

A good article. There is a rule government and businesses use where if something looks like a conflict of interest it is a conflict of interest. What others might think is important.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 13 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello RTalloni. Thank you for your comment. It is difficult to know what really goes on in the minds of others. I can see the concern of the family members. They are right to be cautious. I can also see how their concern ended up being displayed in a judgmental manner.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 13 months ago from the short journey

Your points along with the true account of the family matter are good to think through, even (or especially) in today's society when it seems anything goes.

You've reminded me of how we need to listen through the ears of other hearers and see through the eyes of others watching if we want to communicate in a way that helps people have accurate perceptions. Difficult, but teaching ourselves to do it gives us a strong position if we want to communicate/display important characteristic/concepts such as high moral integrity, a testimony, and trustworthiness in business.

It sounds to me like not all her family thought she had wrong intentions, but that some were concerned about what others would think of her actions.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 17 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Suzanne Day. You couldn't be more right. Even though actuality is the truth, sometimes the majority decides what reality is and how we are to live by the "(manufactured) rules."

Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 17 months ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I enjoyed reading your story on Gabriela. There's so many perceptions that are different from reality in our society today - such as women's body hair being a problem, or that everything sold to us makes life better (warning - it can make life worse when it comes to food products and chemicals). There's that perception that we can be "better" than who we really are or the usual tired capitalist success story of "working hard" to "own a home" - all view by majority of population in no uncertain black and white terms. Thank you for writing this!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 17 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

I think you are right, sujaya venkatesh. It seems to be a typical character trait for many.

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 17 months ago

a problem for most people i presume

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi word55. I am so glad you like the story. Maybe family knows best. The jury is still out on that decision. And honestly I don't how I am at 100. But I won't question it. I will simply enjoy it while it lasts.

word55 profile image

word55 18 months ago from Chicago

Okay Marlene, you put together a wonderful story here. I admired it every step of the way through to the very end. Humm, I guess family knows best. Oh, well. Thank you for sharing truth and being so creative! Loving that 100!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

You are funny, Manatita. Thank you for your feedback. To answer your question, she did not meet the man. The family made it clear that they would not be part of helping her meet the man. I think the woman figured it would not be worth the turmoil of going against the family wishes. The embellishments are for the business of disguising the true characters from the public, after all this family is not a reality TV family, on the other hand, if the true characters were to read this hub, they would indeed recognize their role.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 18 months ago from london

Interesting story. I feel like it's missing something at the end. Did she meet the man? how did the husband take it? A family conclusion?

A very interesting story, though, and told well. I like it. Add some embellishment. He he .

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

I agree with you on that one, travel_man1971. When we come to conclusions too quickly, we lose the opportunity to discover the real truth behind a story.

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 18 months ago from Bicol, Philippines

This is an eye opener. That's why we always have to be careful when putting conclusive words to other things or persons. I still believe that we should "Never judge a book by its cover."

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Nadine May. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Now that you mention it, I can see how this situation is more of a cultural matter than simply people not understanding or trusting.

Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 18 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

What a fantastic story Marlene. In some cultures for a woman to meet a male client without been chaperoned would be considered improper, in other cultures ( like in Holland) nobody would even blink an eye, or think anything of it. That is proof that our perceptions are formed by the cultures we are brought up in, so if we step out of our cultural boundary box so to speak, yes then there are confrontations. Sometimes we do need to step away from our cultural boundary boxes in order to allow the next generation in our culture to see a wider perspective about life. Voted UP , Awesome!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi Shyron E Shenko. Your take on the story is interesting, especially if Gabriela herself was not telling the truth. Interesting!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 18 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

It is so true, pstraubie48, we cannot control what others think. Some people tend to be so closed-minded that they don't hear the truth through their own defective thinking.

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 18 months ago

I think that perception can ruin relationships and destroy families. If Gabriela’s only reason was to meet with a client that she had not met before (or even if she had met before), then her going was a lie. I would not put my family in a situation like that.

Wonderful story Marlene.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 18 months ago from sunny Florida

Sad but true...I have written about this just cannot judge what is happening by what you see...if you do not have the whole story your thinking could be skewed.

It seemed in this story that the family's disbelief went even deeper than not believing what they see.

And in fact we cannot control what others think or see or even hear? The truth is we just have to live our lives as we know they should be lived and the rest will take care of itself. Those who truly love you will let the truth prevail.

Thanks for sharing. Know that Angels are on the way ps

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Kim. I agree that even though Gabriela and her husband had an agreement, the trip involved the family and since the family decision was unanimous, Gabriela made a wise choice to conform to the family consensus.

ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 19 months ago from North Carolina


This is a tough one for me to weigh in on. While, I understand very well the trials and tribulations of belonging to a family structure, I also believe that the compromise Gabriela and her husband had agreed to seemed reasonable. Great story and certainly one worthy of lots of discussion.

A definite thumbs up. Thank you for writing this hub.



MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Excellent point, RobinGrosswirth23. The spouse or significant other deserves the utmost respect and transparency in all cases.

RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

RobinGrosswirth23 19 months ago from New York

Voted up as interesting. However, in most cases, if a wife or significant other first told their partner that they would meet a client, then that is the person to whom the truth and transparency matters most. A good read.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Matt, I can't really know what's going on in the husband's mind, but it could be a little bit of low self esteem leading to distrust, or it could just be that he is overly protective. Let's give it to him, Gabriela was going to meet a total stranger. The family, well, I think they are simply short-sighted. I'd love to be able to interview them to find out for sure, but then they would know Gabriela shared their story with the world - one more thing for Gabriela to contend with.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi MsDora. I did the best I could to remember the details. I'm sure I left some stuff out, but the concept is the same without it. Thank you very much for your compliment.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 19 months ago from The Caribbean

Marlene, you're a good story teller and illustrator. Very effective and I can imagine readers beginning the conversation all over with their spouses or friends. Good job!

Matt Easterbrook5 profile image

Matt Easterbrook5 19 months ago from Oregon

I do agree with your comment. Gabrielas husband obviously has low self esteem even after 47 years. I feel sorry for her not having a more supportive family. All she wanted to do was to promote her art work and meet with her client. Nothing wrong with that scenario.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi LongTimeMother, the family definitely displayed a compassionless response. I think if it were me, I would have accompanied the person. But then again, I am the kind of person who doesn't see gender when it comes to business. I wonder if the family members were more concerned with the woman's safety more than the idea of her meeting a strange man. In any event, it is a sad story because there were safe and transparent solutions that a caring family member could have offered. But, as you can see, no solution was offered. Just a lot of teasing. That's family! Or, at least, that family.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Matt Easterbrook5, I agree with you. At the same time, I can see how people who are quick to judge might also be quick to conclude that a male and female meeting might be more than business. It's kind of sad, especially when it's all about work and less about the gender of the person you are working with.

Matt Easterbrook5 profile image

Matt Easterbrook5 19 months ago from Oregon

Marlene I thoroughly enjoyed your hub. You are right in a lot of ways. I think this is a very real scenario. Usually in the business world people meet at offices and with other staff or assistants around, so it is a business transaction. I think it would be very unprofessional for her to meet with her client at his house or a private place. I do not see anything wrong Gabriela meeting her client in a public place and maybe having even her sister in law or sister with her as an assistant. This way she could conduct business with her art work and not be perceived as having an affair.

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 19 months ago from Australia

Hi Marlene. Sadly, they were also lacking compassion and kindness. Any one of them could have accompanied the woman, but none bothered to see and acknowledge how important it was for her. I doubt she enjoyed her time in Texas, having been 'dismissed' in such a way by family members who she expected would be supportive.

She should not have been put in a position where she had to meet the client alone. Any one of her family could have offered to go with her. I expect future family reunions may well be viewed in a very different light by that disappointed family member. I think it is a very sad story. I also think you wrote it very effectively. I, for one, feel for her.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello LongTimeMother, integrity is the concept that the family is missing here. I, too think it is a shame for this person to miss out on an exciting opportunity all because the family lacked confidence in this lady's sense of integrity.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Faith, I was fortunate to have been subjected to the concept of male and female meetings being off base. It seems prevalent in the Christian leadership world. At least, in my church a male and female (unless married to each other) could not be seen together in the same room. Surprisingly, the reason given had nothing to do with temptation. It had to do with how it "looked."

LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 19 months ago from Australia

Marlene, I feel very sorry for the woman in your story. Imagine living life surrounded by people who doubt your integrity. Husband, mother, siblings, who should know her well enough to understand her excitement about meeting a client and could offer to go with her to protect her reputation from any gossip, denied her the chance to fulfil a dream.

If I was the woman in your story, I would be heartbroken.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 19 months ago from southern USA

Wow, Marlene, this is all so very interesting. I never thought about work-related meetings with clients, regardless of sex, as inappropriate, but I can see it a little clearer in this scenario. I have male and female friends, but I always invite the spouses, girlfriends and such along.

I have read many Christian articles about co-workers not going to lunch with another one (just male and female) by themselves as it opens the door for temptation for sure. Well, on second thought, I think I heard it on Faith Radio, and it sure does give one pause.

Up +++ and away

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello B. Leekley. Thank you for your feedback. I have an even deeper regard for how "normal" behavior is established within a given social network. At first, I felt bad for the lady in the story. But, now I realize it is sometimes simply a matter of keeping the peace within your world.

B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 19 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

This is a very perceptive essay, Marlene. It follows that it is only when the assumptions and judgmental opinions of many people change—the new perception beginning with a few in the vanguard, growing in numbers, and becoming the prevailing, 'normal' perception—does social change happen. The anecdote told in this hub shows that there are still pockets of extreme patriarchy in American society in which it is not accepted as a matter of course, as normal and unremarkable, that a professional woman will frequently meet one-on-one with clients and colleagues. I married a church minister. Our marriage would never have gotten off of the launchpad if I opposed and resisted my wife's often, as a routine and important job responsibility, having private, confidential, one-on-one meetings with both female and male congregants to listen to their troubles and counsel them.

For a short time in the 1980s I took flute lessons, until my teacher's husband, a marriage counselor, "hooked up" with a client, leading to a divorce and my teacher having to find full-time work. Adulterous romance is a risk when either spouse spends time with a potential lover (meaning anyone between puberty and senility)--an employee assistant, a business client, a work colleague, whatever. The answer to the risk is not a cloistered life.

In my 73 years, I have seen prevailing attitudes change regarding homosexuals, racial segregation and discrimination, careers and roles open to women, and so on.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Eric, you are right about that. The truth is taking a good whooping. I was once in a church leadership role at a church I attended. The rule there was that no male and female should ever be alone in a room, including elevators. It was improper for members of the opposite sex to mingle on any level. So, you can imagine how difficult it was when I started a worship band and the only two people in the band at the time were me and my guitarist (male). We always had to have another leadership person in the room to hold practice. It was a challenge. Eventually, the pastor lightened up on the requirements and we were able to practice together without the hassle of rounding up another leadership member.

It seems a lot of people base the truth on their own perceptions of what they think is happening. A lot of living life is calculated. A lot of what I do is thought out to measure who's going to think what if I do this or that.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hello Bill, you have said that before and I think that truth is valuable. Casual or business, functional or not, nothing is worth upsetting the family structure. Thank you for your feedback, by the way, except for the editorial liberties for the sake of hiding identities, this is a real life story with a treasured lesson. :)

billybuc profile image

billybuc 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

Interesting story, Marlene. :) Almost like it was real life. :) Bottom line, and I think I've said it before: family always comes first. No way around that one, and a casual meeting with a male friend just isn't worth the heartaches and headaches that would follow. :) Have a great Sunday, my friend.

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Well this article really opened my eyes and is making me think hard. So in my book you did a fantastic job here. Wow! What a concept. We do so much here to create a reality by perception. Most the time I think it is healthy so I do not get too far out there and conform to a "normal" that makes sense. But I have to wonder if I have ever not met with someone because of their race, color, age, gender, preferences, religion, political party simply because of how it would look to others.

In coaching and youth ministry we are careful to avoid one on one time with young vulnerables, especially of the opposite sex, and perhaps as much for liability it is to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

My good old buddy truth sure is taking a whooping these days.

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