“I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with our personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human beings and as artists, we have to know all we can about each other and we have to be willing to go naked.” May Sarton
I stole this quote from Katrina Kenison - a real writer, a published writer, author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Lindsey introduced me to Katrina's writing. Lindsey writes beautifully over at A Design So Vast, putting words on the page that stun me on a daily basis with their depth and their beauty.
Every once in a while, I feel worthy to touch the hem of the garment of some real writer out there. But most of the time, I don't even consider myself in the same category. I don't write every day. I write, sometimes, when inspiration strikes. I don't live and breathe to read what other writers write about writing, although when I do, often something resonates deep within me. I don't make even a fraction of my living off of writing. I've never submitted any work for publication. Writing mostly functions as a tool in my process, a companion on my journey, a way to focus inward and listen to my own voice instead of being consumed by the external voices around me.
But lately, something else surfaces repeatedly, keeping me from filling up this space or any other. It's cold. Too cold to go naked. I shiver at the thought of baring myself, of turning myself inside out, of putting thoughts down that will expose the self-doubt and extravagance of feeling that Sarton writes about so eloquently. I feel exposed.
I knew when I started this blog space, a public forum, that others would read what I wrote. Mostly I slowly shared the space with other virtual connections, no one who knew me in real life. But slowly, the audience shifted and others arrived that know me with skin on. Overcoming the fear of that exposure takes courage I don't always have. Haven't had lately. So I sit, quietly, covered with a warm blanket. Unwilling to strip down and go naked, even for only the audience of me.
Being seen, going naked, exposing our deepest self often creates extreme resistance. Our culture cautions us not to show too much, be too real, dig too deep. We shouldn't rock the boat unless it's to shout down someone who disagrees with us and start a fight. Looking deep, seeing what's behind the eyes (thank you Julie Daley), holding what we see with love and tenderness and recognition of the divine takes too much effort. We'd rather compete and compare and twist a knife into someone else's vulnerability so we don't have to look at our own.
And maybe there is a balance I have yet to find. Maybe every single thing doesn't need exposure. Maybe some brand new parts are too tender. Maybe some things should be held close and nurtured before being revealed. But sometimes things are ready to see the light, to breathe the air, to dance naked no matter who is watching and the fear keeps me bundled up under my layers. Because right now, at this moment, I don't know how to get rid of the chill in the air, and it's just too cold.