Letter From the Editor

Nikki Gonzalez

I have a certain process when I write my “Letters From the Editor”.  Typically, I spend several days mulling it around in my head -- as I walk my dog; as I swim laps in the pool at the gym; as I take long, very hot showers after swimming laps in the pool -- before I even begin to put words down. The puzzle of thoughts takes shape in my mind first always. Then, when I’m ready to write, I do it old-school style. Pen and paper. I like crossing things out and moving sentences with hand-drawn arrows. I like notes in the margins. Only when my page is a seeming chaotic storm of scribbles that only I could make sense of am I truly ready.

 

This issue’s letter was no different with the exception of this: I spent a lot more time (and a lot more swimming) thinking about this one. Liars. The word kept repeating in my head (and, inevitably, leading me to sing some Ye*). I thought about how there are all different kind of liars -- benevolent liars and malevolent liars and -- the kind of liar that hurts my heart the most -- the ones that lie to themselves. Let me be honest (see what I did there?), this whole issue is dedicated to one of these kinds of liars -- a self-deceiver. He just kept coming to my mind every time I thought of this theme. Imagine a person successful and charming, healthy of body and mind, and with a smile that quite actually brings a beam of light with it. In other words, he has all of the qualities that offer him a solid foundation of security in life. But, he’s not happy. So, though he could make changes in his life without worry of his community standing, his income, etc., being jarringly affected, he doesn’t. WHY? Because his brain won’t let him admit his unhappiness as truth. Perhaps it’s because that admission would bring consequences to other people; people that he’s afraid to hurt. Perhaps he’s afraid of change. Whatever the reason may be that underlie, he’s a liar. A self-deceiver.

 

This brings a thought: I have this workout trainer who loves to remind me that the brain naturally works to protect us from working too hard. The brain will tell us to stop -- stop doing any more push ups or bicep curls, stop running even a quarter mile more -- to spare us of the uncomfortable exertions. But we can consciously override it because our bodies are capable of more. And just as it protects our bodies physically, our brains protect our egos psychologically. Rather than face uncomfortable truths head on we ignore them or we do some incredibly mental gymnastics to ease the discomfort we are living with.

 

Psychology is awash with theory, put forth in efforts to explain why we lie -- from the evolutionary perspective that lying an adaptive skill residing in activity in the amygdala, a gift from our ancestors; to the social psychological that stress the need to view our lies in the context of the social environment around us; to, of course, the psychoanalytic school’s focus on the unconscious mind, that deep, wonderous, and supreme abyss. A common thread through all of these opposing schools of thought? That we NEED to lie.  Perhaps my favourite perspective that I encountered in researching this, that does indeed sum this up, was from Daniel Goleman writing for the New York Times. He writes, “The roots of self-deception seem to lie in the mind's ability to allay anxiety by distorting awareness. Denial soothes.”

 

We all know liars. And, as Ye so rightly sings, we are all liars, ourselves. Denial soothes. What laborious and dirty work it would take for the liar that inspired this issue to dig into the dirt where the roots of his self-deceit grow. But I’d bet it’d be worth it. I bet there’s happiness to clutch tightly to, muddied though his hands may be.

 

This issue isn’t all lies, though. There’s memories, too. Our Art-Inspired contest features artwork by Highland Park, New Jersey artist Scott Brustein. His painting, “Night time NYC”, was created in tribute to very real and longed-for moments of friendship. The returns we received -- the poems and the stories that were inspired by this scene -- felt that very palpable experience conveyed on the canvas.  Congratulations to Kathryn Sadakierski and Eugene O’Hare for their winning reflections.

 

Without further ado, I present our Spring 2022 issue, a collection I will dedicate to my own liar and one that I invite you to dedicate to your own. May they find true and real peace and happiness.

Nikki Gonzalez

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