The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Space Between

Where exactly does the truth meet the fact?

Where, for that matter, does the sky meet the earth?

Where does one soul authentically meet another?

Some people devote their entire lives to attempting to uncover something that they can be sure of as real, something that they can call the truth. These people might be scientists, politicians, or theologians. They might be students or teachers, parents or children. They might be middle class or working class. They might be the homeless or the impoverished, or they might be any of the millions of individuals who go through life with loneliness as their only company.

Whoever they may have been born as, when they wake up in the morning and look at their reflection, they all share a common desire. It is the desire to look into the depths of their own eyes, where for so long they have only seen a void or a mystery, and instead see a light of understanding at last.

In Mexico’s Barranca del Cobre, one of the largest canyons in the world, there is a tribe of native people called the Tarahumara who intentionally live in seclusion from the outside world. They live in dwellings hidden in the sides of the canyon cliffs, and are particularly famous for two things. The first is their incorrigible drinking habits, getting absolutely smashed on their home-brewed corn beer, so often that an adult member of the Tarahumara will have spent one out of every three days of his life being either intoxicated or nursing a hangover. The other thing that they are known for is long distance running. They hold big races, usually the very next morning after drinking their brains out, and they start running without any preconceived direction or destination. There is no finish line, but instead the victory goes to whoever is the last one still up and running. Running these races has become such a way of life to the Tarhumara that they often last for 48 hours or longer, covering distances of hundreds and hundreds of miles across steep, treacherous terrain.

The world that the Tarahumara belong to is in many ways nothing at all like our own, and yet in some respects it is exactly the same. When they wake up in the morning, the Tarahumara are also a people who look for that light of understanding in their own eyes. It is an understanding that goes beyond the mere need for survival and somehow transcends it, as though the universe itself is looking through us in search of its own identity.

When we are young, it is easy for us to think that the sky and the earth become connected at the horizon. But as we grow older, we see that the problem with this is that the horizon is always out there, always off in the distance, always in the future. No matter how far we go, even if we run as fast as we can, for hundreds of miles like the Tarahumara, we can never reach the horizon. The horizon is never here. The horizon is never now.

Perhaps it is the same way for the truth and the fact. Perhaps they never actually meet, but because we want them to, we always see a horizon in those distant depths of our eyes, a place in the future where they come together and meet as an understanding at last. Perhaps their unification is just an optical illusion of the mind.

If you find this conclusion unsettling, then don’t worry. It bothers me too, and I’m the one who came up with it. The fact is, try as I might, there is nothing I can do to bring the world I was born in and the world of the Tarahumara together and make them be one world. The truth is, I think this may be the way it was meant to be.

My advice to you is that when you finish reading this article, take a deep breath and don’t think of anything. Just take in the world as it presents itself to you, and maybe, just maybe, you will find that you are suddenly standing on the horizon where two souls have just authentically met.

Paul Beckwith


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