I stared at the far edge of my mind, beyond the mountains ahead. There was an answer–I was certain of it. My search had demonstrated that there had to be an answer. I had gotten that far. But it had proven difficult to ascertain a single answer that was exactly and always correct.
A red light hung in space and time between me and my destination, a stoplight across the intersection at which my truck sat in slight tremors from the idling engine. “What is truth?” I wondered, repeating the question I had been asking myself for months. It occurred to me that I had just spoken out loud. Thankfully I was alone, preventing otherwise impertinent questions; the questions which so frequently assailed my reverie, when, while with others, my thought lined face was detected, or I accidentally spoke aloud to myself. Woven between my time with family and work were relished moments of thought, reading and writing in which I had steadily worked after a solution. Often I could not remember how I got home, to work, or to bed or if I had showered; of the time in between I could only remember the conclusions drawn in mental effort.
My road had been one of starts and stops in moments of minor triumph and disappointment as each new idea, a potential answer, was found and then discarded, when it did not withstand the rigors of reason: to withstand all extremes. The littered path included carefully scoured changes in my attitude toward truth over the years.
Unsurprisingly, my beliefs about truth had been significantly influenced by those with whom I associated in person and in recorded thoughts. Rather than a continuously progressive path, my contemplation revealed a twisted and halting wandering. This added to my quandary, not only for the variety of beliefs I had become acquainted with, but because so many were clearly contradictory. I wondered: were people’s epistemological creeds verily conflicting? What was it about humans and truth that enabled so great variation?
I continued to probe the hazy glare with my conscious efforts to pierce the meaning that would stand up to critical analysis. Then into my mind came an idea, simple and clear. It was the answer. It was the answer I had been looking for. It was the definition of truth. I knew it.
Yet, it had to be proven, tested and verified. Over the next few months I worked through proofs and tests of extremities, one after another, reading and rereading books, reviewing every scenario I had created and many new ones, reconsidering everything I had been taught, revisiting my life and every moral situation and crucial experience I could remember, studying constantly to verify this definition of truth was always correct. It was. In the process I learned a great deal more about the definition of truth. I learned why my business was dying. More importantly I learned a lot more about myself and other people.
I quickly discovered that people get into trouble when they start thinking about error as if it were truth. People do it with frightening regularity. Why does this matter? Because I found that I had been one of those people who I thought so inconsistent and contradictory, who sought for happiness, but could not make it last.