Literary biographer Virginia Spencer Carr died today. She’s author of one of my favorite biographies, The Lonely Hunter, about Carson McCullers, who was one of my favorite writers.
Carr’s book about McCullers was so compassionate and empathetic that McCullers’ widowed brother even asked Carr to marry him. (She declined.)
One particular quote I remember from The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is this:
“All we can do is go around telling the truth.”
That quote has stuck with me and I’m sharing it here. That’s all we have, our own personal truth.
Just now, I was talking to my youngest daughter about this. We agreed that we have to be honest. But how do you know when to share your truth? And how do you know whom to trust?
Libby said, “I don’t want to waste my story on just anyone.”
Our stories are our treasures. It isn’t a good idea to tell everybody everything. It’s important to wait and make sure the other person is an appropriate listener. I know that I have sometimes shared my story for the wrong reasons. To gain someone’s good graces, to gain someone else’s approval. Sometimes, I’ve shared what I thought was my truth but — if I’m going to be honest here — it was really truth about someone else. Actually, if I’m going to be really honest here, it was my side of the truth. Borderline gossip. I probably shared it because I wanted my listener to agree with my side of the story.
Part of living our best chapter means claiming our life story, our narrative. We are who we are. We are facing the world as ourselves. We suit up and show up. We don’t make excuses. We present ourselves to the world from where we are. We are starting from somewhere.
Writers write their truth, as McCullers did. She wrote about the lonely, the outcasts, the people who live on the jagged edge of life.
To be the heroes of our lives, we have to claim them. We have to go around telling our truth. More importantly, we have to go around living our truth.