I have a secret. So do you. So do we all. Maybe we should keep them? Or, should we confess?
I wonder. The modern culture declension into talk-show, tell-all, sin and redemption addiction, investigative-journalism, tabloid-muck-raking, social media personality-marketing, follower seeking, endless posting, navel-gazing, self-referential, self-involved empty introspection all in pursuit of popularity and fame and sympathy has turned the world into one huge confessional booth.
But, even with all this availability of daily (minute by minute by minutiae, even) details about hundreds (or thousands or tens of thousands even) of “friends” and “acquaintances” and “followers” – do we know people any better than we did before?
I think, for me, the answer is no.
Long was I a person to whom others told secrets. I kept my mouth shut. I did not judge. I could be told almost anything about almost anybody and it didn’t really change how I felt about them. I was a safe harbor.
Long was I – that safe harbor – a person to whom people came in a Susan Hayward, “BACK STREET” sort of a way. I didn’t just hear their confessions, I was, often, in collusion.
I believed confession was good for the soul. Secrets lose their power if you can share them with someone. But, too, I came to realize that – as the confessor or colluder – I would, eventually, be a reminder to them of the person they were when they held that secret – and, often – that would be a person they were happy to NO LONGER be and of whom they wanted no reminders.
Hard lesson, but one I got. Eventually, I came to be very cautious about whose secrets I would hear and certainly, even more so, to whom I would tell my own secrets.
Which is about faith, I think. In what and whom do you have faith? What do you believe? And, what do you believe in?
Those, I think, are the existential questions that are the foundation of daily, personal reality.
All of my life has been a grappling with those questions; which are fundamental. I have prided myself on not accepting vacuous suppositions, refusing to allow specious tenets of faith or patriarchal constructs to determine my behavior; I would not bow to religions or politics or . . . etc. One gets the picture.
I still don’t. I still question everything. And it is that questioning which can lead one to a very dark place. I think the human animal craves some sort of structure, the definite, the defined. I have managed to up-end and un-do most structures, to question the why of everything that is culturally approved – until I landed in a place that felt like I was far out in the middle of an ocean, bobbing and sinking and without a life-jacket, ready to drown in all the why.
And that’s okay. People want me (want everyone) to be “happy” – and it’s not that I don’t want to be happy, but that I don’t want to be the sort of happy that is an illusion of having accepted “truths” that aren’t – finally – really the truth; I don’t want the rat-race happiness lacking in a meta-cognitive examination of its source.
I have a secret; I am, ultimately, at the center and core of who I am, an optimist. It certainly does not LOOK that way when one listens to me or reads me – but, it is, ultimately, true. The reason I have been – often and of late – so pessimistic, is that I believed again and again and again in what I thought was the “happy end” (another discussion ENTIRELY) and when that hoped for outcome did not occur, I needed to find a reason why, and my “go-to” reason is always, “I fail.”
Thus, my secret, I am an optimist and the inner monologue I have been having with myself is, far too often, “Oh no, I have failed – again!” And my confession; it has taken me a VERY long time to come to this. But I have faith – I have always had faith even when it has been buried and denied beneath layers of seemingly impenetrable sadness and anger – I have faith that, truly and ultimately, the power of all things, the impetus of all things is to create love and light – but, too, that we must be VERY CAREFUL how we define that, how we expect that to appear – so that we don’t set ourselves up for disappointment and learned pessimism; because, finally, for me, happiness is not about money or fame or – well, it’s really not about anything but experiencing peace: the peace to continue asking “Why?” without feeling that asking defines me as a failure.