Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Spilly Parts

On Sunday I said two awkward things.  Two things that made the people I was talking to raise their eyebrows or laugh nervously.  I'm the type of person who is still thinking about those things I said two days later.  It's not that I offended anyone, it's just that sometimes my brain works differently, and what I think/say comes out a little weird.  Sometimes I love this about myself--that my brain is not like other brains--but most of the time I wish it wouldn't be so.  I wish, in some deep part of me, that I could always be the good girl, to think how you think, to please you, World.

I realized today that Sam is sort of the opposite of this.  If he says something shocking, something surprising, this is a good day for Sam.  He may worry, occasionally, about his students reporting him to someone who might be concerned about the edgy joke he made, but mostly, when he makes his students laugh nervously or raise their eyebrows, he feels like he's done his job well.

{Writerly sidenote: This is why, I think, it's easier for Sam to make art, to write.  When you write, you're not meant to say what's easy to hear.  You're meant to surprise people, engage them, keep them reading and thinking and then thinking some more.  Whenever I write a story/poem/essay that does that, that scares me or that I think might scare someone else, I (without intending to, really) abandon it, or stop writing altogether for weeks.}

Where does this difference come from?  My femaleness vs. his maleness?  My Mormon-ness?  Is that what makes me so eager to please?  Those seem easy answers.  I wish I would stop being so afraid of what spills out of my subconscious, of my spilly parts.  I think I married Sam in part because he seemed to love my spilly parts.  When I over edit, he seems to find me rather dull.  Being with him has been good practice in another way of thinking/being.   

I came across two quotations today that seem relevant:

"the chief end i propose to myself in all of my labors is to vex the world rather than divert it, and if i could compass that design without diverting my own person or fortune i would be the most indefatigable writer you have ever seen."  --Jonathan Swift


and also


"loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important."     --Carl Jung


I like what Swift says about vexing the world, and yet there's a part of me that frets, thinking it doesn't need anymore vexation.  But I think this is why I feel lonely, in the sense Jung identifies: I check the things that seem important to communicate before I actually communicate them, and spend too much of my time worrying about what spills over, what gets past the checkpoint.  All hail checkpoints, in some regards.  But I'm tired of lonely, and I wonder what would happen if I adopted Swift's idea that my efforts should go to vexing the world, or at least walking around in it with my real self spilling out.  Maybe the world could use some vexing after all.



What do you think?  Do you let spill?  Do you think you should?  Does Jung's definition of loneliness seem accurate?  Maybe these are overly deep thoughts for a Tuesday at lunchtime.  But, well, they're in my brain.  So here you are.





12 comments:

Genevieve Beck said...

I can't imagine ever being as comfortable as Sam saying or writing something "shocking," but I guess it all depends on what is true and what needs to be said. You probably could have said the exact same thing in another situation with another group of people and had complete nods of agreement and support. But what the outer response is shouldn't be the determining factor in letting your mouth or pen go.
But that's probably why in some situations I don't just say what I wish I could--maybe someday I'll be braver. :)

Fritzi Marie said...

Deja,

I'm like you...I let it all out and then I worry about it later. I feel like growing up the way we did may have a bit to do with it. Just so you know, I adore your spilly parts. I'm so happy you don't fit into the "mold". The older I get the more I don't want to fit in.

hugs,
Fritzi Marie

Annie said...

Oh boy, you don't even know how well I can relate to this. I am the over-editor of the century when it comes to what I say and how I act. I've thought about this a lot and for me, it comes from an innate need to please, a fear of being rejected even for being myself. It's something I'm constantly aware of. I have to consciously work on letting my real self spill out, as you say. That's the only way to form a real relationship with a person--to be the unedited you with the unedited them. Anything otherwise is just frustrating.

Amara said...

Here's the thing: without any editing, people don't get just shocked, they get hurt. They don't just get surprised, they get offended. Caring for what other people think isn't fashionable nowadays, but it means you CARE about people. In order to help people and serve them you've got to watch it a little, and helping others brings some happiness that's non-negotiable for me. However, if I can't express my true opinion about things with someone, I will never be close to them. This is scary sometimes, but the risk is worth it to be able to be comfortable in their presence later. No true love without risk. Sorry --I guess I feel both ways about it depending.

Deja said...

@Genev: good point that it depends on the crowd. And it seems like I've seen you become braver and more excited about your opinions as of late. It's lovely to see.

@Fritzi: You are lovely. I love your spilly parts, too.

@Annie: "to be the unedited you with the unedited them." How beautifully said. Knowing you struggle with the same thing makes me feel like I'm in good company.

@Amara: I'm 95% sure what I said couldn't have been offensive, wouldn't have hurt people. I see what you're saying, and I agree we have to be careful with people (probably more careful than we are) but I'm not talking about that sort of thing. I'm talking about editing myself, about trying to "protect" people from myself while simultaneously trying to be close to them. That formula doesn't seem to work. I don't think my "real" self would hurt people. I hope not, anyway. Or maybe I do think that, which is why I sometimes stay in a tight little isolated and frightened ball of fear. Sigh.

Amara said...

You're right. I keep thinking about this post, and even talked to Mom about it --she should be showing up here eventually, I've just seen the other around a lot lately, and was reacting to that. "Say what you want and everyone else can go to hell" kind of thing, and I realize that's not what you're talking about. I protect myself too until I trust someone enough to know they won't hurt me, and sometimes it's a ridiculous length of time. I don't write the post, I don't share my feelings --tight ball of fear. Good description. But don't you love love love the people who aren't afraid? I crave their company.

belann said...

Spent a lot of years in the tight ball. Hope you can break free.

Terry Earley said...

I value your post and these comments.

My own take is that you can and should be more and more open with those you love and trust. Those whom you trust the most are allowed to see the real, inner you. That is what grows love and trust.

Saying something shocking just for the sake of being perceived to be edgy or clever is just not honest. Much of current literature, music, art and pop culture subscribes to this way of becoming noticed by the world.

We must necessarily be guarded with the rest of our acquaintances to avoid being hurt or to be hurtful.

I love Sam's style of getting writing class members' attention. He gets them to think about how to express themselves in their writing by challenging them with edgy humor. An entirely different thing.

Joseph said...

I don't feel like I'm a very articulate person, but I strive to be. I want to be honest and truthful, yet have an element of tact. I want to say the perfect thing, and like everyone else, I don't want to sound like a dope in doing so. Most times I feel like I can't express what's really going on in my head for the above reasons. Also, I greatly admire people who can put words together in an engaging, intelligent way because that's one thing I feel I lack. I sometimes hyper-edit my conversations, writing, ect. which makes me come off as sterile. The only time I don't really do this is when I'm with my husband.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Whole Foods Vegan Momma said...

Sorry, that above comment was NOT Joseph, but me! My husband would be horrified to think I posted under his name. Oops!

kathy w. said...

I've been walking around for a week now, ruminating over this post. And I'm not sure I have anything particularly useful to add. But I do want to say thanks.

I've been wrestling with the idea of lines—where to draw them and when and why and with/for whom. Making those decisions can be a useful exercise. But sometimes it paralyzes me.

I get particularly tripped up by the line (if there is one?) between my personal experience and the stuff I create.

For instance, if I'm angry and I write about it, should I throw it out into the world or should I have my own experience through the writing and just be done with it? Am I producing art or just a grumpy screed?

Of course, there's not one answer, but I'm glad you brought it up. And I'm glad I got to think about it. And I think you should share all that loveliness of yours—potentially awkward or not—by spilling it often.

Sam Ruddick said...

chaucer said if people were offended by what he wrote, the offense was taken, not given.