Last night after I laid down to sleep, my mind started running. Thoughts sprang into my mind from many directions, what about this for the blog, what about that? Truth be told, I could so easily become obsessed. I was thinking about all the secrets we humans keep hidden in the recesses of our minds and hearts. I mean, who doesn’t have secrets that cannot be told for fear of retribution of one sort or another? Dear Readers, most of you are bloggers yourselves. Is there anyone out there, if you were to be perfectly honest, who doesn’t have some deep, dark secret or other just waiting to be expressed, eloquently or otherwise, in these cyberpages? Come on, then, let’s confess.
Actually it happened like this. Something that I wrote and published here got me into a bit of trouble with someone very close to me. And then there was a ‘discussion,’ which turned into a weekend of stony silences and tension as thick as a knife. Relationships can be hell sometimes, we all know that. For lots of reasons, and not always obvious ones. But. One thing that I came away with was this question: how much is too much, and even when you change the names to protect the innocent (or something like that), it is the classic writers’ dilemma: If I write what really happened, just how much flack am I willing to take for it later? (or possibly, sooner?)
Have you ever had the experience of watching someone, maybe someone you think you know quite well, very intimately, maybe for years even, as they are telling you some story or other at the dinner table, and you suddenly think, who is this person sitting across from me? Do I even have a clue what they think, who they are, or why I presume to know really much about them at all? It is a very odd feeling, I think that maybe it is way more difficult to really know another human being than we would like to believe. And conversely, can another person really know me? Now, I know what you may be thinking: ahh, another depth psychology question! Yes it is, but it is also just a basic human desire to know and be known, it is what keeps us from feeling so utterly alone here on this planet. If I feel I am ‘known and understood’ by another, then I cannot be me against the world any longer, because somebody knows me, somebody cares what I think, believe, and feel about life. Children feel like this,when you are young it is not yet difficult to understand each other. Only later on, after adolescence and adulthood, does it become so damned complicated, this desire to be known. Even more complex is the other side of the coin, that I also really don’t want to reveal too much of my soul to the other. If that happens, oh boy, then they will find out how lousy of a person I really am, how selfish, how self serving, how mean. I have to keep a part of my soul hidden out of self preservation. I hide away a part of me which no one else can ever know. We all do this to greater or lesser degree. It is a paradox, the desire to be known, and the desire to remain hidden at the same time, a fight within the soul.
Back to the secrets. I wonder strange things. Like for example, I wonder what percentage of the thoughts a person thinks in the course of a day are secret, are thoughts which, if known by the others, would cause horror, shame, or embarrassment to the thinker. When someone takes you by surprise and asks, ‘what are you thinking about?’ how true is your answer, and how much is made up in a hurry to avoid potential conflict or worse? I am not talking about secret murderous thoughts of revenge and hatred, like something out of a gothic novel. I imagine most people have pretty ordinary thoughts, mostly not even very interesting to someone else. Still, the secrets in our heads are there, they exist. Perhaps that is one reason I love this blog, as a modern day version of the confessional. Instead of a priest sitting on the other side of the booth, listening and then giving me the proper amount of hail marys to reconcile my sins, I have you: the unnamable, faceless witnesses to whom I can, potentially, confess all. Well, nearly.
What would our world be like if, magically, we all woke up tomorrow and could hear each others’ thoughts? Then we would have to learn some new skills in a hurry, like how to shield ourselves from another, how to block out all those thoughts we never in a million years want to know! Not to mention, how do I protect my own thoughts from everybody else? Maybe I watched too much Star Trek growing up, but I can easily imagine that day coming when it will become much more difficult to keep our secrets, secret.
- What is your Secret? (writeami.wordpress.com)