As I dip my toes back into blogging again, I’ve been trying to figure out whether this is actually a place for unabashed honesty and openness, or if it needs to be kept somewhat guarded — with some personal sharing, perhaps, but nothing too personal. What’s the right balance? At the moment, this is still basically an anonymous online space, one where, I suppose, I could get as honest or as raw as I wanted without worrying about how it might make me appear to other people or what their reactions might be. I could rant incessantly about politics and religion, complain about my day job, or publish my collected oeuvre of super-cheesy romantic fan fiction, all without worrying whether it’ll find its way into the results of a Google search and embarrass me at some inopportune moment. As long as it’s anonymous, there would seem to be less risk.
But I think I want some risk. I want something to be at stake here. I want to feel like I’m pushing myself in some interesting ways – to write more, sure, but also to write better, and, ultimately, to see more clearly so I can write with greater honesty and perception about myself and the world around me. Why am I here, if not to push myself at least a little? I think that’s part of why I worry about playing it too safe, staying too guarded, or being too theoretical and detached.
I think a part of me is a little nervous about sharing my real, unguarded thoughts with others. And, if I’m honest, I suppose that particular part of me is afraid of what people will think, or of what they’ll say, or of how they’ll judge me. I want to be “Writing Down the Bones,” as Natalie Goldberg calls it, but doing so can make us vulnerable.
And, in the end, it’s not just about what others might think. The fact is that, if we really go deep and attempt to bring up what’s down there, we might not recognize ourselves. And we might not like everything we see.
Or, we might recognize ourselves more completely than ever before. We might come to gain new insights and understandings that make it impossible to continue with business-as-usual or with life-as-we-know-it. Once we start to get a good look at ourselves, we might realize that our lives aren’t all they could be, that we could be daring and dreaming and doing so much more than we have ever allowed of ourselves.
William Butler Yeats’ oft-referenced poem “The Second Coming” starts like this:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
It’s an intense poem, filled with some frightening imagery, but for now I’m thinking primarily about those last lines: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” It feels like an admonition, perhaps, not to be content with sitting always on the sidelines, letting others’ “passionate intensity” – and their priorities – dictate the shape of our world. As a creative person, as someone trying to lead “the examined life” – a life that’s actually worth the living – I feel like part of my responsibility is to try and return to the center as often as I can, and, when “things fall apart,” not to give up hope. When the storms of life get bad, I’d like to take my inspiration from the Taoist sage Lieh-tzu, who, the story goes, traveled from place to place by riding the wind itself.
It’s awfully easy to feel like we’re prisoners in our own lives, trapped by circumstances and responsibilities beyond our control. And some of this sense is realistic; our lives do impose limits on us. But, when it comes to honest self-examination, I suspect a part of me is afraid of realizing that many of the “closed doors” in my life are only locked in my imagination – that I have lived, in far too many ways, as a prisoner of nothing but my own fears and doubts. To acknowledge that, to realize that, could be frightening indeed. To realize that could change everything.
For now, I guess I’ll just “make the path by walking” – or build the blog by blogging, as the case may be – and see what comes of it. Will I manage to stay true to the center? Will I find the right balance between openness and self-preservation? Will I trip over my own two feet and fall flat on my face? Tune in next time for the answers to these and other exciting questions. And if anyone out there has two cents to throw in about the issue of privacy and honesty in blogging, feel free to chime in.
Till next time, safe travels to you all along the way. I think I hear a storm kicking up out there.
Posted in roundabout response to the WordPress Daily Prompt: Center