Reality is a strange animal. I’m amazed at how often we choose to cage it up and put it in the closet. It’s only when we start to hear it scratching from the other side of the door that we begin to pay attention to it. I take only a little bit of comfort in the thought this practice of denying reality is a condition we all participate in from time to time. The propensity to live in the “what if” realm as though it is reality now is a strong one. I realize today, as I sit here trying to figure how to write a reflection on the last few months that not only is reality scratching at the door, it is in fact pounding on that door. Reality is too big for that cage, too strong for that closet, too important to hide from.
The bottom line is that I had a knock at the closet door from Reality the other day as I struggled to figure out what to write about on Mrs Metaphor this week. I was feeling conflicted and constrained. I was experiencing much the same trouble with things I’d post on Facebook or Twitter. I guess I could blame the novel I’m writing about a dystopian future and the coming of age of a reluctant prophet. I could point the recent presidential election or my recent conversion to Orthodoxy. I could add in the factors of sending my children to “real school” for the first time ever and the fact that I have written in different voices for a lot of years on the many and varied blogs I maintain.
For the last several years I have tried to cultivate a certain narrative, a particular voice here on Mrs Metaphor. I’ve tried to be “middle ground” and say things in a way that most people, regardless of political or religious affiliation might hear even if they do not agree. I found myself feeling constrained, unable to find a way to express all the things I wanted to express for fear of condemnation, for fear of the turning away, for fear of injuring someone…for fear. It was that I realized this divisive and explosive political atmosphere brought that strange reality animal pounding on my door.
Reality informed me in no uncertain terms that there are just always going to be people, probably quite a few people who will not agree with me, who will not believe that my point is valid, who think that I am completely deluded for voting Democrat just as there are a number of people who will think I’m nuts to have become Eastern Orthodox, foolish to have homeschooled my children, foolish to have put them in “real school” and completely whacked out pursue middle ground where health is concerned.
Reality told me that someone is always going to disagree with me. Reality said that sometimes they will do it with a great deal of anger and bitterness and that sometimes I will respond in equal measures of anger and bitterness. For as long as I put myself out there here, on Nearly Orthodox, on Doxasoma, on Drama Free Fitness and on Twitter or Facebook or Linked In, I risk being judged harshly and I risk being “unfriended” and “unfollowed” and “unread.”
For someone like me, who is truly interested in being a published author this reality gives me pause. This reality makes me think a great deal about how I present online and in print. It makes me hesitate to push the publish button, to choose places and people to whom I submit and share my work, sometimes it stops me completely. I think the better of a post or a tweet or an essay, I hit delete instead of publish and there is some value in staying my hand from time to time. And this isn’t a bad thing. Letting my finger linger over the “publish” or “delete” buttons is often a good exercise. I don’t want to be rash and judgement, critical and bitter. The “what if” moments have to at least get a say in the matter if any balance is ever going to happen, right? There’s room for the oddball, uneven and poorly constructed I hope. Heaven knows these days it’s what finds its way out of my keyboard more often than not.
I find today, though, as I attempt to write a cogent explanation of this that while I may deliberate about “what to do” or “what to say” the real struggle, the struggle that Reality points out from behind the closet door is that it is not about “what will I say” or “what will I do” but rather, “who will I be?”
Reality is clear that I cannot write or speak things, or fail to write or speak things just so that a certain audience will be happy or that my friends will remain my friends or that one day a publisher will read the words, slap their forehead and rush a contract to my door. That’s a whole lot of “what if” living. That kind of “what if” living keeps me from being honest and in turn, it keeps me from being loving.
In the end it is the expression of who I am, hopefully written in a real, authentic and loving way that defines me as a writer and as a friend and as a parent, a sibling, a daughter, a woman, a wife, a citizen of this big blue planet. In contemplating a way to end this therapy session of a blog post I just kept coming back to this one thought, no matter how I turned from it this confession kept finding its way back again and again. It’s important you all know, if you did not already, that I really love doughnuts. I love them a lot and that’s just never going to change. So, you know, there’s that.