catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 18 :: 2010.10.08 — 2010.10.21


Getting naked

A friend of my parents’ popped round today.  I knew she was going to, but had forgotten.  The doorbell rang, my five-year-old answered it and although my face said welcome, my thoughts went straight to the mess inside.  I hadn’t seen her for ten years and she was pristine, turned out perfectly for the event that she headed to after our visit.

As I led her through the house, I mentally groaned.  It got worse and worse as we progressed.  I pointed out to myself the things she would be seeing, the unwashed, un-vacuumed floors; breakfast dishes still not washed up; the open cupboards; the toys and blankets strewn over the floor; the reject bits of paper from several small snowflake makers; crumbs of breakfast and last night’s dinner littering the carpet.

I wasn’t always like this.  When I grew up, my parents kept an open house where anyone could turn up for breakfast, lunch or dinner and no one would bat an eyelid.  We would quite often have at least 20 people over for Christmas dinner, none of them blood-related to us, and visitors sometimes came for a night and stayed three months.  It struck me as bizarre that anyone would require a visitor to ring before popping round.  What difference did it make anyway I asked myself?  Be spontaneous!    

In any culture, we like to present a front to people that hides the mess of our current lives; they are permitted to see our pain and our heartache, but only to the extent that we allow it.  When we step out of our front door, unconsciously, every person likes to look a certain way, project a certain image, give certain information out about themselves, be perceived in they way they want to be perceived in.  When we log on to our social networking platforms, we share only a portion of our persona, we omit certain details, we focus attention on others.

A blogger friend recently wrote an interesting post about when friend asked her how she was doing — “The truth, not the blog stuff,” he had said.  

The truth.

How often do we present the truth to others?  What happens when we tell people the unpleasant truth?  To whom should we tell the truth? How healthy is it to let everything hang out?  Do people really want to know the truth?

I love to blog and the thing that I find fascinating is that through blogging, I have found that many of my online friends are closer to me — or I perceive them to be closer to me — than my real-life friends.  An online baring of the soul, a revealing of some (not all) of my deepest thoughts and musings, connects me with readers, builds friendship and builds mutual compassion.  Their encouragement and support sustains, their knowledge of my true feelings, my true heart cements the realness of their friendship, the value of it.

Even so, offline or online, our friendships are almost always censored to some extent.  People only know our interests, our passions, our heartaches if we get naked, if we are honest with them.  Our natural reaction is to want people to think the best of us: to think we are organized, tidy, conscientious, good parents, faithful, generous, good conversationalists, interesting, and so on.  

We shy away from revealing the truth about our messy lives because “getting naked” — revealing our true selves — means potential rejection, ruined reputations and yet, when we do, our relationships deepen, broaden and put down deep roots able to hold us when life shakes us to the core.  They are the most valuable, the most precious of relationships, born out of the most precious revealing of our true selves.

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