9.21.2009

Bearing my soul

It's not like I write anything personal...

This was me defending my blog. The reaction from a family member was one of disbelief. Griping about my life and sharing my children's antics is apparently way out of the comfort zone for some. But for me, the day-to-day mundanity of my existence on this planet - the struggles and the milestones - are not anything I am ashamed of or feel the need to hide. In fact, I need to share it, whether anyone reads it or not, so I know that I am alive and here for a reason.

At a family gathering this past weekend there was a discussion about the personal nature and vulnerability of art and various other occupations. Among the nine adults present were two writers, five artists/designers, three teachers, two hairdressers, a nurse, two counselors, and a preacher (most of us were some combination of these). It was agreed that the very act of creating of any kind is a bearing of the soul. The teachers/preachers/counselors also felt the vulnerability of their trade as they tell of their own experience to help others with theirs.

... hanging one of my paintings on the wall is like standing up naked in front of everyone...

When I write it is me that goes into those words. Me is all I know. So, on that plane the very act of writing is intimately personal. When you read my blog you are tasting my essence. And I am willing to give this to you. If I wasn't I wouldn't be a writer.

When I open the pages of a magazine like Brain, Child I am sometimes astounded by the honesty of the writing. These women lay their very souls down on the page and allow us, the readers, to poke around in their humanity. But it is this very vulnerability that allows us to understand we are not alone - and there's always someone worse off than us. Recently, a mother told of being arrested for child neglect when she left her pre-teens at the mall with some younger siblings. I have to admit, I myself was surprised, as were many other readers. Consequently, the author has been sorely criticized (beyond reason in some cases) and her story has spread throughout the media channels. She took a chance with the honest telling of her story and suffered for it. At this point in my life I would not have the guts to tell the truth quite so, well, truthfully.

But there is a need for me to tell you things. I feel compelled to. Although, you're not the one(s) I am speaking to primarily - it is myself. I re-live, assess, and understand my life by putting it into words. Anais Nin wrote,

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
I remember reading this in my early 20s and understanding exactly what she meant - I have to record my life to better live and appreciate it. The fact that I have allowed you, my readers, into my world and and believe you care is an arrogance. But it is also a yearning for community. I want to share the truth as I see it so I might connect with others who see it the same way - or don't, but have another, equally valid opinion.

We all yearn to belong, to be a part of something, to believe someone cares about our lives. The meaningful conversations where we actually talk about the way we feel are, in general, missing from our everyday lives. We feel judged and ashamed of the way we feel (we can't help the way we feel) and so we hide behind brainless chatter. I believe this is why Facebook, Twitter, and texting are so popular. But unfortunately, it has gone to extremes: I don't care if you are going to the store to buy toilet paper and I didn't really need to read that a FB friend had "afternoon delight." (Why she felt compelled to share this is not for me to judge. I'm glad she had fun and maybe it inspired some other friends to surprise their partners likewise. She may think my FB status updates about potty-training Tator are more than she needs to know...)

There is a quote from C.S. Lewis that I read when younger which really spoke to me:
We read to know we are not alone.
So I write for those who read so they may know they are not alone. I write to know I have purpose. I write to understand myself. I write to feel alive. And if I happen to inspire someone or help them feel less alone along the way then I have done my job as a writer.

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3 comments:

freelancerforhire said...

I've given you a thumbs up & tweeted this! I loved it. I am interested in what you have to say. And I don;t think its arrogant to assume someone would be interested in your thoughts. It would be arrogant to assume everyone would be interested. To assume that one person out there somewhere finds an interest is just logical to me ;-).

RaisingSmartGirls said...

I write my stories for many of the reasons you write yours - to share my story and my struggles and not feel quite so alone.

I appreciate your writing. More than you might guess. Had it not been for the recognizable feelings I see in your writings, I would not be so uplifted by your words knowing that I'm not alone in my struggles.

Many people do run and hide from the feelings they have, being taught that it is wrong or weird or selfish or whatever else to express the truth of how they feel.

Those who are courageous enough to do so find peace and acceptance in the re-telling and having others say, "that's the way it is for me too" does bring comfort.

The other thing is I believe that we are in this world to help each other out. Sometimes you help others, sometimes they help you. A lot of good comes from these efforts.

I'm grateful you write. I'm grateful you share a part of yourself so that I don't feel so alone in my struggles.

AND I am grateful you've inspired me in various ways through your writing. I am always encouraged when I come to read your stories.

I think you are making a difference in my life and I'm sure in others' too.

Peace,

Casey

joanna said...

Casey, I'm going to cover all your recent comments right here with one big "thank you!" Knowing I have inspired you is so gratifying. I think more and more bloggers (who may never have written before) are understanding the importance of the naked truth - for their readers, but most especially for themselves.

I appreciate your kind and supportive words. THANKS!