I’m re-reading a memoir called Telling Secrets by Frederick Buechner. A counselor gave me this book several years ago, and I remember enjoying it. But it didn’t really sing for me. And then, very recently, I couldn’t stop thinking about this little story. I knew that I needed to read it again.
So that’s where I’m at. And honestly, it feels as though I’m reading this memoir with new eyes. I’m not so stuck in denial this time around. I see my own brokenness, and the brokenness of those around me. I see the bondage, the prison bars–whether real or simply felt–and all of these new sights allow this memoir to really glimmer and shine.
Here is a part that I pretty much adore: “This is the self we are born with, and then of course the world does its work… we try to make ourselves into something that we hope the world will like better than it apparently did the selves we originally were. That is the story of all our lives, needless to say, and in the process of living out that story, the original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.”
Can I just say how exhausting this “putting on and taking off” truly is? I’ve lived most of my life like this. Pleasing people. Putting forth the smiles and good humor that was expected of me. Presenting the happy-go-lucky side of me, while doing my best to hide the sensitive, feeling parts.
And here’s what I love about art.
Art reconnects those broken synapses. It’s like a jolt of electricity, a bridge from the presented self to the true self. It truly is a gift from God. And here’s what I love about our Creator: He doesn’t just do something for the good of one; it’s for the good of many. So when you, dear artist, create from those deep places that stir your true self, you invite others to bridge their own gaps. To brazenly peel back the layers long concealed until “the original, shimmer self” gets a glimpse of sunlight after so many dark years.
Ernest Hemingway said, “Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But our bleeding isn’t in vain. It’s the blood that heals, of course.
So what about you? Is it hard to create from your true self? How do you bridge the divide?