those who tell the truth shall die, those who tell the truth shall live forever

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As a writer I am often confronted with contradictions. In trying to condense ideas into digestible chunks in my essays, to have focus and to make some reasonable conclusions, I have to become comfortable with the ambiguous, the uncertain and the downright confusing.

Take, for example, the differences in our individual sensibilities of what we reveal of ourselves publicly.

Some of the stuff people put up on Facebook is irritating and disingenuous. I am often amazed at the subjects they choose to share with their “friends.” To me so much of it is like announcing to someone, “Hi, nice to meet you. I am a middle-aged man with insecurities out the wazoo that I wish to unload on you in the hope that you will feel sorry for me and like me.”

My fiancé has a Facebook page but I don’t think she’s looked at in years. She is as unlikely to put anything she regarded as personal on there any more than she would go to the park across the street stark naked and drunk and announce her love for me.

She is in some ways the product of her Swedish heritage. She keeps most of what’s inside tightly held, revealing only to those to whom she is closest.

I respect and admire my fiancé for her sense of what is personal and how much and with whom she shares of herself. We are a lot alike in this way, yet I push the limits of my comfort as an important part of my writing.

My essays are deliberately personal. Being as transparent and authentic as possible–even while uncomfortable–makes possible bridging the distance and time between my writing 6and those who might read me possible. If you are going to take the time to read 500 to 1,000 words wouldn’t you want to get something out of it?

she is as unlikely to put anything she regarded as personal on Facebook any more than she would go to the park across the street stark naked and drunk and announce her love for me.

Writing is thinking. At least for me. I write to work through the life’s uncertainties and contradictions. And I have this notion that my experience, whether it’s parenting my daughters with my ex-wife, discovering the joys of my unfolding relationship with my fiancé, or figuring out why I am here, is not all that different from whomever might read my essays.

Yet, my fiancé pointed out the other day, how is what people talk about on Facebook all that different than what I do in revealing personal details of my life in my essays in this blog?

Though I like to think what I do is more real and thoughtful than simply typing a few superficial comments on Facebook, I suppose it is the worst kind of delusion to be doing the same thing for which I criticize others.

i suppose it is the worst kind of delusion to do the same thing for which I criticize others.

Once in a while I read an essay in a blog and feel truly let in. Much as if you were having a real conversation face to face over a bottle of wine. It’s in that space where someone allows you into their soul that it’s a thrill to read their essays. When all the authentic, ugly parts are there, open and without polish and subterfuge. It’s where their beauty and their humanity also live. Someone revealing themselves in their life helps me understand my own.

This happens occasionally in conversations with our small circle of close friends. Many of my favorite times are lively, emotional discussions where there is room for vulnerability, confusion, even disagreement. How fulfilling those nights are when we sit by the fire and get closer to our friends because we all let down our barriers.

That brings me back to Facebook. Why in the hell would I be interested in reading this online as I did not long ago: “Oh, what a rough day. I’m glad it’s over and tomorrow is a new day. Thank you to all my friends. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

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Or, “why do I keep having all these bad relationships?” followed by a series of comments like this: “be strong, girl. He wasn’t worth it.” And “yeah, that guy deserves to have his balls cut off. Can’t wait to see you tonight. We will find you a new man. Kisses.” All by a series of Facebook “friends” who, despite their appearance are about as close to real friends as the North and South Koreans.

Why the fuck would anyone waste their time posting all of that? Why not just pick up the phone and call a real friend? Can you imagine people in a real conversation saying those things?

You can’t break down barriers between people unless you are willing to break down your own. I might be as guilty of attention-seeking and promoting my own superficial take on things as some of the poseurs on Facebook. That is not my intent. Perhaps you will forgive my navel gazing as I try to write my way out of the uncertainties of life.

note: the title of this essay, and of all of my essays, are taken from the songs of Explosions in the Sky, my favorite post-rock band. I encourage everyone to explore their music: http://www.explosionsinthesky.com
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