Reality and Perception – When the Truth is Deceived by Lies
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.
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.
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