Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Why indeed?

A few posts ago, Anonymous said... Why do you expose yourself so to strangers?

Excuse me? My immediate reaction was: Who are you? (As in: who are you to challenge me about my writing when you can't even identify yourself? Short answer: Why not? Next short answer: None of your business. And what makes you think I'm doing it for strangers, anyway? And besides that, blah, blah, blah etc...)

Okay. Obviously Anonymous had hit some kind of nerve for me to spin off like that. (Good information, even if it wasn't information I especially wanted to look at.) I realized I had automatically placed a certain judgmental inflection in his words. Or her words, but I had also automatically made Anonymous a he. He thinks I shouldn't be exposing myself to strangers.

Okay... try looking at it another way. Maybe he (or she) is asking a simple question... no judgment involved. Why? Except for the so. Expose yourself so. How much is so? Okay, get over it. Do you want to answer the question or not? Well, if Anonymous does have a judgment about my revelations, then it's actually pretty ironic for me to answer the question carefully or thoughtfully because that would require me to reveal even more of myself to this stranger. Ah... Paradox. Annoying, frustrating, intriguing. Why do I expose myself to the possibility/probability that strangers will read the very personal story of my life? Why indeed?

This is the most coherent and honest answer I can come up with:
First, because it's who I am, what I do. I have never played close to the vest with the details of my life. When I was involved with a married man (for many years) my friends knew about it. When I was struggling in my marriage I didn't try to hide it. I don't like secrets and I'm a blabbermouth. I find it easier to be open and honest about who I am and let the chips fall. That way if people like me for who I am, they aren't surprised and disappointed to find out later I was really somebody else. If they don't like me for who I am (or what I do) then we don't have to make nice and pretend. It cuts out all the dissembling and that's a good thing because I'm no good at it.

But there's more to it than that. I have a story and I'm willing to tell it. Everyone has a story, and everyone's is unique and important. Mine is worse than some and not nearly as bad as others. But there are universal elements in each person's story, and sharing those elements brings us closer as a human community. I believe that. When I talk about feeling guilty because my mothering skills were slim to none, that may strike a chord with some other mother who feels inadequate. In that single moment of harmonic vibration she knows she's not alone. I may never meet her in person... she's a stranger. But we share a common bond. That's not a bad thing. When I speak of envy, loss, grief, resentment, passion, pride... all these are part of the human condition. We are more alike than we give ourselves credit for. I'd like to promote that thought.


suzt said...

Hey you! Have been lurking on a consistent basis and just want to say that I kinda pity Anon. He/she doesn't get the kind of freedom that comes from courageous honesty and the kind of wonderfully surprising community that often results. Keep on dear sis, keep on!! Hugs!

ACey said...

I was glad to read this, CJ. The last two sentences are particularly relevant to me as a writer as well as a reader.

Pilot Mom said...

I did laugh when I read the first entry a few days ago. You made the point exactly to Anon. He/she doesn't want to be known...but, why is he/she reading stuff about a stranger? I think you gave a great answer, CJ!

kpjara said...

I started a big long comment, but the bottom line is I agree and thank you!

Prayers to Anon to find him/herself and spill it without fear of judgment but out of a motivation to live it out!

abiding said...

Yet another reason I keep coming back for more. You live out "paradox" very well, and it makes me smile!

4501 Safari said...

Well said!

Becky said...

You speak the "language of the heart" - - and there is a healing that comes when it's shared with others too. Well done! B

Pat said...

I loved Anon's question. I am a stranger to you and as I read your words and you allow me to see through you and into the greater depths of the deep wisdom that stirs us all, I am nourished by what you see. Thus my own vision grows. I hold onto the hope that as we all nourish each other's unique visions, our connections deepen and the One Body grows.
Thank you for being so transparent!