Long time no post. The fall / holiday / winter rush got ahead of me this year, and as always blogging and picture editing are the first things to get cut when things are too crazy. But the past couple of weeks have been amazing. The slowdown of life that always seems to happen in January has been so welcome to me, and so restful. Things that were laid aside for so long are able to get completed, and all’s right with the world again.
This is by no means a new year’s resolution, but I want to carry the thread that picked up so much steam in my life in 2015 into 2016: being more open and direct. Hearing and telling truth wherever and whenever, especially when it’s hard. Speaking up, speaking out, being real and being vulnerable. In that spirit, let the Wall of Text begin.
I’ve done a better job at this in person than I have in print, but maybe the trusty old blog can help with that. I’m up against habit and inertia though (not to mention a toddler’s timetable), so I’ve got my work cut out for me. The grotesque image of Tom Cruise in Interview With the Vampire comes to mind–“There’s still life in the old lady yet!” Sometimes you just have to accomplish things by brute force. I’ve noticed a slow-growing reluctance to talk about myself in anything other than generalizations on my own blog over the years, going way back to probably 2006 or so. Part of it is probably just from getting older, growing up, and legitimately being less the center of my own world than I used to be. And part of it probably comes from how much the blogosphere has changed in a decade or so. Instead of chronicling your life for the three or four friends who’ll bother to read it, people post a lot of pictures of fantasy travel destinations, or latch on to niche topics for their blogs and make them more polished, more focused, and more anonymous and sterile too. It also seems like so much more of a risk to share your heart, knowing how it opens you up to criticism immediately, and how outrage culture can take over so quickly. The other day at work someone said “I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment when I stopped wanting to blog a record of the day’s events and just regular stuff I was thinking and feeling.” I would expand that to “thinking and feeling and learning,” and I’ve talked about this before so I won’t go into it in-depth again here. But if I miss the kind of real, open sharing that sites like Medium are championing anew, I’ve got to practice what I preach.
Another reason to press forward in this task is how meaningful the stories of those I admire have been to me. Mind blown and life changed, by slow degrees and in quiet study. Stories have always shaped who I am and shown me new ways to think, and more so now when I feel them pushing me to be courageous every day, even during times when it seems easier to just shrug through life. In terms of actual topics, maybe it’s seen as weak to speak frankly about what’s happened to you, or it’s supposed to be some negatively feminine thing to have any attitude other than “cool girl.” But I don’t care. I realize that by maintaining silence, the only person that’s aided is the unrepentant oppressor. Hard work requires that your hands get messy at times, and it’s worth it. Being emotional (heaven forbid, about the very cataclysms of life) is a thing I can do, a thing anyone can do, and still be sane. Still have valid opinions. Still be professional and adult and worthy.
I agree with the idea that vulnerability is key. In some circles, a close cousin to vulnerability is called “brokenness.” Others in this world risk being tortured or killed when telling their true stories, and for me there’s not much at risk besides that great idol Aloofness. And if that’s the case, how dare I keep silent? If reading about my experience is meaningful to even one person, it behooves me to do it. Regardless, this work of being cracked open and spilled out is good and refining and positive work.
As a better orator than myself said when he had to deliver a difficult truth: “Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.”
In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The longer you sit around hemming and hawing and being afraid of your weakness, the weaker you will become.