Coping with Anonymity: an Anti-DIY

I don’t think I’ve ever said anything worth listening to. This thought struck me today, keenly. And it bugs the shit out of me. I’m angry about this reality.

And my mind is not so kind as to stop with this one thought. It keeps asking, What do I have to do to say something worth hearing?  Could I ever say something that isn’t just an echo of something already said, better than I could say it? If I am not worth listening to, what does that say about my overall self-worth? Can I change? Do I want to, badly enough?

The answers to these questions I fear most: Everything, no, I’m nothing, no, no.

If I am not worth listening to, it must be my fault, right? Somewhere along the way, I failed to figure out the right platform. Or I failed to stop caring so much what people think that I could actually focus for a decent chunk of time on something other than my problems and flaws. I failed to follow up on my dreams and say arse barns to the naysayers, and now I am paying for it.

Yet here I am, still writing in the face of my own inadequacy. That’s part of why I write in the first place—to shut my mouth up, to shrink from the unscripted. I feel like a coward, like I must be retarded in some way to be incapable of saying the right thing loud enough to be heard.

The world is not kind to those who feel, to the ones who take its weight on their own shoulders. There is no publisher, no organization, no business, no government, no club that truly wants you to be here. To be, as you are, and to be in this present moment, no strings, no conditions. They want the shell of you: your money, your time, your endorsement, your skills, your testimony. You’re absurdly replaceable as a statistic.

But you have a family, don’t you? Where are your children? Who is your neighbour? Is there at least one person in your life to whom you mean everything?  Then, as you, you are enough.

I need to know this. I don’t always believe it. Most of my people have come and gone and I’ve let them, believing I have no right to ask them to stay, believing it is all my fault. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. But I do know without some kind of community, some kind of context, we are all just disembodied voices on the wind, echoless.

I don’t know what (or if, or when) you think of me. I might not care anymore.

But I will shut up, for now.

 

A Penny in the Sea

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

~ C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, dedication to Lucy Barfield

Recording my life seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me when I was given my first journal at age six. What, you might ask, would a six-year-old write about? Well, gymnastics class, and what I ate for lunch, and the birth of my cousin Michael, and even the occasional melodramatic complaint about how everyone hated me and how I should just run away. I included lengthy descriptions of post office field trips, lists of Christmas gifts, my feelings about a certain boy at Bible Study Fellowship. I even compiled detailed information in the back about my friends and family, based on quite a bit of sleuthing (I was under the impression that my thoughtful Nana, based on her occupational tendencies when visiting our house, “really likes doing dishes”!).

I loved that journal: its pink hearts spiraling across the pages, the cheap lock and key that gave me a sneaky sense of secrecy, and the deliberately shaped letters, forming words that somehow incarnated my six-year-old feelings and dreams. Words were magic to me, and the chance to escape from the daily tasks of crafting sidewalk chalk masterpieces and defeating pirate kidnappers with my sisters into literary endeavors was an adventure in itself.

At the time of writing, I’m starting a very new phase. I just graduated from college with a degree in Music Ministry in May, and after an incredible two weeks touring Europe with my choir, I’m starting to realize what “post-graduation” means. For the first time, my summer will consist of working and living from my apartment in the Cities instead of with my family in rural Minnesota. There is a wide, sparkling blank ahead of me, although the immediate future is slightly focused. I know very little, but I have found a different sort of magic, even a sense of home, in wonder and curiosity about the world. The best writing reflects the real world to us through fresh lenses. As an inchoate writer, I am not searching for sentimentality and nostalgic romanticism of the past, but for a renewed sense of purpose, rooted in what is real and true.

So this is the prologue, the opening credits, the casting of a penny into the sea with dreams that, like the tales I loved so well, great trees of silver and gold will shoot out from it. As I record and wonder and muse, feel free to respond with your own thoughts, stories, questions, anything really! Dialogue is a wonderful thing. Surprise me.

Side note: I hope to post at least once a week during the summer months, and having written that down will, ideally, bring some accountable momentum amidst selling plasma and rehearsing for Tarzan. Cheers!