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Deception

December 6, 2010

The next morning, Estella’s mother woke her at dawn, dressed her in her best outfit, and handed her a basket. “Go down to the water and collect seaweed for our meals today. Make sure you get a lot, we don’t have much else to eat.” She gave Estella a quick hug and pushed her out the door. Dutifully Estella went down to the water’s edge and began collecting seaweed.

There’s a certain type of deception involved in the parent’s attitude the next morning. They don’t explain to Estella what they have done, they send her on an errand, one she has undoubtedly performed many times before. They omit the real reason for sending her to the water, substituting for it a plausible sounding one—they need food. Even though Estella knows the truth, she still does as she is told, and begins to collect seaweed. What she is sent to do seems necessary—it has to do with survival after all—but it is all a ruse in service of the loss of power.

This type of deception can be hard to see while it is happening. In the midst of it, we think we are harvesting, ensuring our survival through the hard times. We are dutiful, doing what we think we should to survive, while that sense of duty may come from the part of ourselves selling us out. After the fact, we might see the deception more clearly. Still, there might be small clues we can look for, ways that we can know that all is not as it seems. For Estella, the clue is the incongruence of going to collect seaweed at the beach in her best outfit. It is sometimes these details that can raise the flag that something is amiss.

Has there been a time in your life when you didn’t tell yourself the truth (or the whole truth)? How did that loss of integrity lead to a loss of power? Is there any area of your life now in which you are deceiving yourself in some way?

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