People make up all kinds of shit when you ask them about their earliest memories. Most of the time, almost all the time, they don’t even know they are making things up. People believe all kinds of shit. People say all kinds of shit—even when they don’t believe it, even when they don’t know what they’re talking about.

There are all kinds of ways to do those kind of things and all kinds of things that trap us in the tales we tell. There are the well-known illusions and tricks of consciousness. There are the lies we know we are telling and the much more serious ones that we don’t realize are lies. There’s the posing and posturing; our reflex like need to mark out our turf, defend, counterattack and strike, pre-emptively if possible. Then there’s all the weird stuff that’s more difficult to map out and even to name. Stuff that locks us into conflicts we barely begin to understand, conflict with ourselves and with others.
It starts young. I remember hearing my kids (they were perhaps 4 and 8) in the kitchen arguing. I walked in to hear Josh saying forcefully to “it’s a lemon”. Rachel replied even more firmly “it’s a melon.” In a spiralling escalation they argued back and forth: “it’s a melon”, “it’s a lemon”, “no it’s a melon”, “no it’s a lemon” round and round they went. Before leaving the room I felt obliged to point out to them that the object sitting on the table in front of them was in fact usually called “an onion”. They paused for a moment, both staring perplexed at this strange object that was suddenly inescapably there – and then they exploded in astonished and delighted laughter.

Tragically, not all conflicts are resolved in this way. Sometimes we never discover that it’s an “onion”. However, in this case the revelation of the roots of the conflict produced a moment of joy, where the tensions of the conflict were transformed and forgotten. It was a great moment for them and for me -- perhaps for different reasons, perhaps not.

Here’s another one of those “kids say the darndest things” thing.