What is Useful Lie # 1?
They are useful, and some would argue that they are not lies.
They are a class of beliefs that benefit us, but cannot be proven.
Fortunately they don't need to be believed in the traditional
sense. They can be used as "operating principles."
I call them lies because we essentially pretend to believe what
we have no real evidence for. Here is an example from the true
events of the day.
Everything Happens for a Reason
I was on the highway by four thirty this morning, heading
out of Canon City to climb Mount Yale. The trail head is about
two hours away, and it is important to start early, in order
to be off the summit before the afternoon thunderstorms move
in. At five twenty, as I was approaching Salida, I saw a scattering
of rocks on the road. They had fallen during the night, and it
was too late to avoid them.
The front tire on the drivers side was punctured by a rock
and was losing its air. I pulled off on the side of the highway
and took a look. By this time it was completely flat, so I opened
the trunk. The first thing I noticed was that everything was
wet. Somehow the trunk had been leaking when it rained. Next,
I saw that the bolt holding the jack in place was rusted. I tried
turning the nut. No luck. I took the crowbar and pounded on it.
Just to take a break, I moved everything into the car so I
could get at the spare tire under the trunk carpet. The wing-nut
holding this in place was rusted solidly in place too, and couldn't
be pounded free with the crowbar. This must be a test of my ingenuity,
and a chance to practice my creative problem solving skills,
I decided (useful lies?). I found a rock and tried that, managing
only to crush my finger. This was my opportunity to dance around,
and practice my profanity.
Then I remembered that in a box of miscellaneous tools in
the trunk I had put a small hacksaw, with a tiny blade. Kicking
at the jack had only bent the metal brackets, so I decided to
saw through the bolt. Halfway through, the saw broke. Fortunately,
I was able to fix it, and I made it through the bolt. I took
the jack out, and it wouldn't work. It was rusted up. I found
half a quart of oil in the trunk and dripped some on the threads
of the jack, then pounded on it with the crowbar. It moved, and
I was able to use it.
I washed up in the river, enjoyed the rising sun, and started
on the much thicker bolt holding the spare tire in place. The
saw broke, I fixed it, the saw jammed, I started over, and eventually,
the tire was free. I wiped the slime off that was growing on
it. Ten minutes later I had the other tire off, the spare on,
and was listening to it leak air. I had a bicycle tire pump,
so I used that.
It was seven when I arrived at the tire shop five miles away
in Salida. the shop opened at eight. I waited the hour, discovered
the tire was torn beyond hope, got a new tire put on, and...
it was too late to go climb the mountain. It was also raining,
and it would have been an awful day to be up high on a rocky
peak. Maybe I even would have been seriously hurt up there had
it not been for that flat tire.
Do I really believe that? No. Do I even believe that everything
happens for a reason? No. I don't have to. It is useful enough
to act as if that is the way life works. I could have been pissed
off, discouraged, or in an otherwise unproductive state. Instead
I acted as though things happen for a reason.
What does this do? It gets you thinking about the good that
comes from a "bad" situation. I was almost having fun
trying to figure out how to change that tire. I avoided a cold
wet hike. I came home and I wrote this article, which might even
bring some new traffic to my web site. In other words, I made
a good thing out of a bad thing, and that is what a bit of useful
lying can do for you.