This Photoshopped World

When Sheila read my post entitled My Life as a Fraud, she told me she really liked it. Then her inner editor added: “About that last paragraph…”

While my fraud post hinted at darker moments, the challenges I cited were minor, day-in-the-life issues that we all run into. In some ways, that was the point. But that was also another layer of deception, a glossing over of the deeper feelings that prompted me to write that post in the first place. It’s much easier to talk about a sewage spill than the way living in small space magnifies the cracks in a family; or to mention a skinned knee without addressing the extreme anxiety of a child who cannot bring himself to straighten that leg for months.

The point I wanted to make was that there is no way to escape the shit we all go through — but I only scratched the surface regarding the complexities of life. Sure, we can escape our struggles temporarily — by taking a vacation, going for a run, watching a movie, eating out, downing a mickey of Jack Daniels… — but the more we try to run from life’s hardships, the faster they run to catch up with us.

I tend to be a happy, optimistic person, but I struggle too. I feel moments of loneliness, even in the warmth of my own home. I lack confidence over abilities that shouldn’t need questioning, or don’t really matter. I grieve when I hear of a long lost friend’s passing, and I fear for the health of loved ones. I worry about the state of our planet, and about the other beings I share it with. While unpredictability is part of what makes life wonderful, it also carries a weight that sits in my subconscious, ready to pounce at any moment.

This blog is an exercise in writing — a way to develop my skills as a writer and storyteller. It is also a place to explore my life in greater depth, using words as a tool to mine deeper into my own soul. It’s not easy to “drop the kimono” and let people into the deeper goings-on of my mind and heart. Some would say it’s crazy to do so — that we must guard our emotions and only show the world our best side — but I disagree. I’m getting rather tired of this Photoshopped world, and I have great admiration for those who possess the courage to live their lives more openly — authentically — than the rest of us. For every person who stands out against injustice, comes out of a closet, admits to addiction or depression or… there are so many others wishing they could do the same.

I want to discuss matters of substance, both philosophical and personal — on this blog and in my everyday conversations. I want to challenge institutions and social norms, and discuss emotional issues like insecurity and anger and shame. But it’s much easier to dance around meaty issues, to make light of skinned knees and spilled sewage.  One of the challenges of going deeper is that it tends to drag others into the picture. There are times when it feels necessary to speak in abstractions and generalizations — especially when it comes to anecdotes.

I once stated on Facebook that I’m trying to strike a balance between not caring what people think (about me) while caring deeply about how they feel (about themselves). That is easier said than done, but it’s a guiding light for how I want to communicate. It all starts by admitting to a level of vulnerability. I hope I find the courage to keep digging, to go deeper into what really makes me tick. Because I think a lot of what I’m feeling/thinking is the same stuff that many of you are feeling/thinking… much of which needs to be said.

(After I drafted this, I went upstairs and found Sheila re-reading my “fraud” post. She said that on second read, the last paragraph was fine. I debated cancelling this post, treating it as a “free writing” exercise… but then realized how appreciative I was of her first impression. As Hey Rosetta said in their hauntingly beautiful song, Bricks: “Once you say it, you can’t take it back.”)

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