My efforts to start blogging again have contained a lot of navel-gazing – Hell, I’ve even got a whole category called “Navel Gazing” because I know myself well enough to realize that if I keep up with the writing there’s going to be more than a fair share of it involving my whiny postmodern introspective TMI stuff in the mix.
So, in an effort to rationalize my proclivities, I figured I’d try to suss out why I do it. So here’s a post where my navel explains itself. It’s like META navel gazing!
The easy and obvious reason is that I want the attention, that I want you to feel for me. I suppose there’s some truth in that, if I’m honest. But then again, if you’re honest about whatever things you share with others in your life, that’s likely to be true about you, too. Which is part of the thing I’m leading up to.
See, I’m hoping that the bigger reason that I do this is that I’m human, and I want to be MORE human, and I want to think that there are other humans out there who might get some ray of hope (ironically), or at least connection – out of reading my whiny bits.
I actually tend to enjoy it when others share their messiness and insecurities, especially in well-written prose. If I didn’t like reading it, I doubt I’d have any tendency to write it. When all else is stripped away, it’s all about stories – about connecting to the messy beauty of humanity through the sharing of our stories. It’s about being reminded that I’m not – that none of us are – as alone or as fucked up as we feel when our armor and security blankets are set aside.
So, if I keep writing, I’m very likely to keep writing about my shit. The thing I hope to do, though, is to get better at writing it so that it comes across as slightly more elegant in its messy honesty and thus becomes more accessible. That comes with practice, trial-and-error, and taking cues from those who are already doing a bang-up job of it.
One of the Smart People I like to read regularly is J.R. Daniel Kirk, a professor at Fuller Seminary who’s blog, Storied Theology, takes a good long look at Story and Narrative in all their messiness as the essential means of our connecting with one another and with the Divine. Recently, he wrote a post called Story Telling & Crisis, and the bit I’ve quoted below is spot on, in my thinking:
We realize that our own stories are not stories of confidence and glory but rather of fumbling and shame and wounds all mixed up with moments of hope and beauty. But somehow we encounter other people and assume that their lives are the public moments of being put-together and beautiful that we happen to encounter–creating a content for the label “normal” that applies to no actual person that we have ever known with any depth.
Reframing normal. That’s what storytelling is about. It provides the rich, comforting revelation that my crap is, in fact, normal, and that there are fellow travelers through the mire. And, hope for moments of rest and peace and beauty.
So that’s my hope. That through these acts of navel-gazery I’ll be jumping into the mire and helping other humans in the subversive act of reframing normal. And instead of waiting until I think I’m fairly good at it, I’m just going to open my overcoat and you can watch – or choose not to – while I practice getting better at talking about it.
Maybe you can think about doing it, too. I’d love to see what’s under your overcoat, and I don’t need it to be Photoshopped or censored or anything that will obscure the honest you from being visible. We are beautiful in our ugliness. We are godlike in our humanness. We are elegant in our messiness. And we are are wonderfully flawed and normal in our realness.
I’m showing you my navel. My paunchy, more-flabby-than-I-want-it-to-be real human navel. Now you show me yours.