The first item is from Salon.com's advice columnist, and has to do with writing. (Here's the full article.) This is in answer to a letter-writer who claims to have lost the desire to write after going through a difficult time that involved other writers. He/she writes "now I find myself associating writing with the sleazy narcissism of those few bad apples". Cary Tennis writes:
Writing is a life-and-death act of consciousness. It must be or we cannot continue. It brings us face-to-face with who we are. Hence the disgust and nausea. Hence the need for compassion. Hence the need for understanding. Hence the need for honesty. And so the cycle goes. Note the above letter writer's use of the word "cycle." Say we write something and as a result we are hurt. We seek to avoid hurt. So we stop writing in order to avoid the hurt. But writing is also a way to heal the hurt. So when we stop writing we fail to heal.
The original letter and the answer made me think about why I write this blog, not knowing if anyone is out there reading besides the few people who have let me know they are. I've gone back and forth about it. Isn't blogging a form of narcissism? Why do I (and millions of other bloggers) assume anyone wants to read about our lives? I've considered deleting this blog at certain low points of my life, thinking that I should concentrate on so-called "serious writing". That is, I think, writing that pays the bills.
But I realize that no matter what, even at the times I say "I'm done with writing. It doesn't make any difference to anyone, or to myself", that I always come back to writing. It's a compulsion; something I do to understand myself. It's a way to make sense of things, to digest things, to put things into perspective. This blog isn't for anyone else; it's for myself. The public nature of this particular medium just provides an extra challenge for me. It makes me write better, think better, and, hopefully, make more sense of out the things I write about because I'm trying, in this writing, to connect my personal experiences and feelings with the experiences of others out there. It's a way for me to make my writing - and my experiences - mean more, be about more than just myself.
At the end of the article, the author writes
Why not be revolutionary and claim the right to exist as we are -- to exist as we have revealed ourselves to be, in all our flawed majesty and brilliant failure? Why not step forward and say yes, this is who I am, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. After all, we must remember that we are not entirely responsible for who we are. We did not create ourselves. We'd like to be better, maybe, but this is who we are. Must we apologize? To whom? To what king? To what judge?
Why not celebrate ourselves instead? For soon we will be gone! Now at least we exist. Our "mere" existence, as far as I can tell, is some kind of miracle.
So writing, even bad writing, becomes an act of revolutionary assertion: I am who I am. Deal with it.
The second item, though gentler, is also about self-acceptance, the kind of radical self-acceptance that's so hard for the human animal to reach.
On his beautiful, minimalist blog, broke writes:
We need to love our thoughts, love our feelings, love ourselves. We need to love all that we are, now - need to love the fact that we don't love ourselves, love the fear, love the doubt, love the hate. We need to love our lives as they are now. To begin by accepting that this is it where 'it' is the fact of our lives now, where 'it' is the fact of ourselves now. Not the life we crave, not the self we desire, but what is now. What is now will include our craving, our restlessness, our dissatisfaction. Love that too, as it is.Both of these, it seems to me, offer windows into that place within each of us where we are, finally and without guilt or doubt, OK the way we are. The place we're all trying to reach with the therapy and the support groups and the hours-long phone calls with friends and the chemicals (of the prescription and non-prescription variety) and the blogging and the reading of books by self-help gurus, and the yoga and the qi gong, and the herbs and supplements and meditation and acupuncture and acupressure and Reiki and the shopping and home improvement and new relationships ...and...and...and....
The place we all dearly want to return. The home in our hearts. That place at the center of our being where we no longer have to apologize for ourselves - I don't mean apologize for what we've done but apologize for our very SELVES, our very existence. The place that welcomes us in our wholeness, with all the cracks and flaws. The place that is always there, inside us, if we care to sit down and look.
Writing helps me get there, sometimes, even if my inner critic can sometimes be snotty and vicious. At the very least, writing helps me connect to the part of me that wants to be at home there, in the center of things, where I no longer need to be different than I am.