What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?
What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or
Oh, I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean
Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks
Religion is a light in the fog
I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean, d-doo yeah
Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, What I Am
I had an email exchange today that got me thinking. A rhetorical question “why does she do it?” She being me, it being write about so many extremely personal issues in a wide open forum like the internet.
First, let me say that it is easier than it might be: after all, I write under a pseudonym and, originally I was very careful to keep my anonymity intact. People I knew in RL had no idea I was blogging, I kept my physical locale hidden and I changed subtle details to confound the issue. Over the years much of that has changed. I now have RL friends that read the blog and I have been quite open about where I now live (if not precise) and where I came from before. Real names of people in my life have appeared and I link to sites where I am known for who I am – both by the sites author and regular participants.
So maybe there is a little bit of fearlessness in it, but for me, that very process of learning to be fearless – specifically of honest communication – is a big part of what this blog has become about.
I have been engaging a process for some years now. A process of (re) discovering myself, of learning the most fundamental (IMO) lesson – that being honest about what you feel and hope and aspire to do in your life is always the lesser pain – and beginning to learn what it means to develop real relationship in my life. And I am doing it publicly partially because that is the point of that fundamental lesson, and because at the end of the day, I hope others can gain from my own experiences in doing this.
So far I am being rather vague and ethereal, if you will. Let’s take it down into the real world.
As anyone who has been reading knows, I believe that civilization itself is not long for this world. This gives me a certain measure of hope for the human race and the rest of the community of life. A future, Beyond Civilization, requires that we re-develop the kinds of communities that we as a species are evolved to live in. And that is the catch. For all that we have learned through the auspices of civ, we have lost so much more when it comes to the basic social skills of our ancestral societies.
I have no doubt that civilized humans (at least some percentage of us) can learn to feed ourselves off the bounty of mother earth. I have no doubt we can find shelter, clothing, water (even considering the environmental contaminants). These are all relatively simple skills. Learning to live with one another, comfortably inter-dependant, in honest relationships may well be the much harder task.
Without quite realizing it in these terms before, I find that this appears to be the task I have set for myself. Although on its face, I find this bizarre, on deeper reflection I find it absolutely…. appropriate. Beginning with my high school experiences where I found relationships that were remarkably full for our culture all the way through to my understanding of my role in those relationships then and since, I have come to understand that my common roleplay of mediator, listener, nurturer is very much WhoIAm. And moreover, it has never really been a roleplay, it has been a role-apprenticeship. I have been working to identify and learn and develop those skills that are all but lost to us.
The biggest one, I believe, is absolute openness, honesty… sharing who we are with others through the stories we have lived, holding nothing back from shame or fear or uncertainty. Please take me as I am or take me not at all.* We can pretend all we want in this civilized culture that is dying around us. But if we are to put our lives into the hands of others (even as they put their lives into our hands) – which is fundamentally what a true community is “designed” to facilitate – then trust must be absolute. Which means we can not pretend. Not to anyone else and not to ourselves.
So here, on this website that is only a hollow representation of the real world, I open up my own trust in you – my readers – and I lay it all out. At first to total strangers, because that was easier. How much pain could they cause me if they did not honor what I was offering? More recently, by increasing degrees, opening up to those I do know, and have come to trust, knowing that they could hurt me, but also knowing that at the end of the day, maintaining a lie hurts more.
*A recurring line from my friend Kenny in his song entitled “My Negativity”