We are but stories

I’m trying to take my seriousness less seriously – a matter of perspective.

I am struggling to understand why did you have to go public with something that is so acutely private.

– A loved one, in response to my “I love you” blog post

Yes, of course, I understand. That was painful for me to write and difficult to share – which is largely why I felt that I had to share it.

What are we really afraid of when we share our true feelings, let alone share them publicly? Today, anything and everything is taken out of context to knock people down. It’s a dangerous world that we live in, isn’t it, this world of the soundbite?

* * *

For years, I was afraid to publish anything substantively meaningful under my own name. Then, in late 2014 I was moved to do so after I started working for an advocacy group that advances religious freedom in Israel. My passion for the cause moved me to come out of the shadows:

I’ve long felt that it takes tougher skin than mine to surrender one’s name and face to a public discourse limited by inflamed emotions and finite keystrokes…

– Me, A Jew of Privilege, Nov. 22, 2014

That was not an easy moment for me, but it passed.

Eventually, I ran out of steam for various reasons, including the birth of my daughter and a personal crisis, but not before publishing upwards of twenty blog posts.

Then, in the summer of 2018 Papa died unexpectedly. I was lost. I sat before my keyboard, desperate, terrified. Thirty days after burying him I started blogging again because I didn’t know what else I could do. That began a process that was among the hardest but most necessary things that I’ve ever done.

Still, it became easier over time. I noted as much several months into the project

I recall shuddering, my finger quivering over my mouse button as I clicked on ‘Submit for Review’ for the first and second times… but I am not so affected as I once was. My father is dead; what words can hurt me?

– Me, ‘Skeptic’s Kaddish’ #19, Dec. 11, 2018

Even then, there was much on my mind that I left unwritten. It would be unsuitable, I felt, or disrespectful. I never aimed to hurt or denigrate anybody. I still don’t.

* * *

Some eight months after that first year of mourning ended, I was feeling lost again. I needed something. I needed my keyboard.

At first, I didn’t quite realize it.

I’d only intended to transfer those 51 blog posts of ‘The Skeptic’s Kaddish’ onto a personal blog so that they would be easier for me to browse and search through. And… then… I had my own website… My fingers were drawn back to the keyboard, and my inner tumult again poured forth into seemingly ordered paragraphs and even(!) stanzas.

It’s actually surreal sometimes – often, even – to read my thoughts in any sort of coherent order. Often they seem disconnected from me, as though they’re describing a reasonable person. Still, reading my posts back to myself, I feel them pulling me in – they feel true.

Am I describing reality or creating it? It’s probably a combination of both.

* * *

At the end of the day, we are born and we die. We know this.

I cannot say how it is that I have these proclivities and character traits, but at forty years old, it is clear that they are mine. I write because – it becomes me. I write because – no other release is lasting.

So I must learn to take my seriousness less seriously. I must not leave it to boil and bubble within like some forbidden draught. It’s all about perspective: I was born, and I will die. The world will go on, and it goes on all the while that I do. Ultimately, none of this writing actually matters, other than to bring me release, other than to make me feel whole.

We are, all of us, but stories, and I am but writing mine down.

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