Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 40: Bravery or fear?

So I just read a story by one of my favorite journalists, Human rights reporter Mac McClelland of Mother Jones. McClelland didn't think she would be a writer. She took a trip to SE Asia and found the story so compelling she had to write about it. And now, whenever and wherever a hot story emerges, she's there. Haiti, Katrina, BP, Burma, she's filed from there.

Today she wrote about PTSD and how it had pretty much short-circuited her wiring so that "normal" relationships just weren't working. Read the story.

What struck me was the raw honesty of it, and it shamed me. Because I hold back. I'm not brave enough to write completely unfettered. I try and manipulate and polish my thoughts so that they sound prettier and cast me in a good light.

It's phony. It makes me phony. I hate it but I guess I don't hate it enough to change.

It's weird. Part of us loves the "look behind the curtain" at people... our celebrity-fixated trash culture is aching to know "what's ___ really like?" Stupid. Who cares? Why is ___ any better than anyone you really know?

I think we disguise our true nature, for the most part, because it's expedient. People are learning that by being too open, it can be costly. You can be discriminated against if you don't say the accepted things, toe the company line, really speak your mind. I've heard that the Japanese have a saying "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" and I know exactly what that means.

So I (we) stifle ourselves. Is this a good thing? "The best way to get along is to go along." I don't like that.

In the past few years I've done a pretty good job with the truth. I was a world-class liar when it suited me. Then I realized that a) it was a lot of work! and b) it was not the way I wanted to live. It was liberating to be able to deal with more things completely honestly and truthfully. But not everyone is there. So I lost some people along the way. Some I really miss.

So I must wrestle with this. I feel as if I am approaching a crossroads. Do I play the game and try and fit in? Or do I say screw it and put it all out there and let the chips fall where they may?

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