Do you feel like I'm talking to you? Do you feel like I'm really talking to you?
Or do you feel like I'm talking at you?
This is not about blogging. This is not even about writing. This is about communication and relationships.
I could have and may have alienated some of you when I wrote about my Mary garden or when I delved into the stickiness that is "Mary worship." However I had to risk our relationship in order to be able to truly talk to you about something that was important to me. You may not agree with me, but at least you were given the opportunity to know how I feel. To see me.
It is not necessary for us to always agree with each other in order to maintain a relationship. I won't even go so far as to call it a friendship. It is not beyond my grasp to imagine that some of you may not like me at all, may not agree with what I say, but you stick around because something about the way that I express myself speaks to you.
Do you feel as though I see you and am talking to you, rather than directing my voice at a faceless audience with opinions that are of no concern to me? I am not here for your traffic or your clicks or your links.
I am not here for your vote and to hell with what you might need.
But I'll get back to that later. One taboo topic at a time.
The other day, I was talking with another blogger and she shared a handful of facts about herself that she had never revealed on her own blog. Fairly basic facts, in my opinion, but certainly not run-of-the-mill facts. These tidbits of information concerned her family, her upbringing, and her religious orientation. Like I said, basic information, but far from average details. Oh, the twists and turns! How colorful her life was! How fascinating!
I asked her why she doesn't write about these things on her blog and she said that she tries to write about topics that are universal. She limits her content to that which people can relate to and easily so. Specifically, she said she tries not to use the word "I" very much, because who wants to read all about "me me me." I'm paraphrasing.
I had to laugh because I can't tell you how often I'll read over a post and have to edit it because almost every paragraph begins with "I." Oh, I hear you, sister.
However, I still write about me me me all the time. Occasionally, I write about things that are anything but universally relatable. I just roll the dice and take whatever response I get.
And yet, you seem to find yourselves in what I write about myself. Even when I think none of you will understand. Or none of you will care. Let alone that any of you will agree.
You find yourselves in me most often when I write something that I think will most certainly alienate you. My words resonate in you when I am sure they will shrink as though in a cavern of indecipherable fog.
When I feel I have most certainly gone too far into myself, I seem to find you... waiting there, asking me, "So, what took you so long?"
When it comes to matters of family and faith, I can think of no other more universal topics. The details and specifics are inconsequential. We all have family. We all have some manner of faith, even if it is a distinct lack of one or a specific commitment to ambiguity. We all have some opinion, even if it is that we have no opinion. In fact, it seems that those people who have no opinion are the most long-winded in their explanations of why not.
So I urged her to risk alienating her audience. I urged her to write for herself. To use the word "I" until it appeared she had a developed a tick.
Hell, I just referred to Mormons as fruits. I do believe half of my readers are Mormon. How in the hell that happened, I couldn't tell you, but I love it.
Specifically, I love it because I may just have been wrong about Mormons being loopy decaffeinated watered-down Scientologists. Excuse me while my ego has a panic attack over the idea that I might be admitting I was wrong about something...
Mormons believe, among other things, that God appeared to Joseph Smith and told him to begin a new church. A modern day prophet. I believe that Mary has appeared and continues to appear to people across the globe, spreading the message of conversion and the importance of prayer and peace.
Maybe we should all be locked up. God forbid you lock us up together, though, because the Catholics will be bringing along a lot of alcohol and I have a feeling the Mormons would pass out from the virtual den of iniquity we would be creating.
Or maybe we don't believe any of that bunk about modern day apparitions. Perhaps it is the power of the faith of those that do believe that is inspiring. Finding yourself inspired by the devotion and faithfulness of those who do believe, whole heartedly, is an act of faith in itself. The power of belief and conversion is impressive, even if it is not your own. The end result is something more tangible, more universal, more all-encompassing. A common ground, even if some of us are standing in potholes and others on mounds of rubbish.
In the end, is that not the hand of God? Unification. Faith. Community. Is that not the point?
...Bringing us back around to misinterpretations and assumptions and fears of alienation. I have always thought of Mormons as prudish. Come to find out, a lot of non-Christians think of Christians in general as prudish. Living in the deep South, we don't run into a lot of non-Christians around here. I would be hard pressed to find a Jew right now, in fact.
But the internet, well, welcome to the Thunderdome of religions, my friend.
I have come to be exposed to a lot of assumptions that none of us drink or swear, dare to break the commandments lest we be ostracized from the fold, that kind of stuff. Fears abound that we are all easily offended as we ride our high horses, striking down sinners with our mighty swords of holy-rollerness. So we hesitate to extend ourselves. To reveal ourselves.
Goddamn (throwing back another shot of vodka)... I sure as hell hope that's not the case because I'll be sh*t out of luck when I show up at the pearly gates with my six pack and flask, looking for my new mansion, ready for my bigger boobs, and trying to hunt down that hot neighbor I always coveted. ;)
My point is that we are all people. Real people. Strip away the dogma and we are all of the same human nature. We disagree, we fight, we judge, we ostracize, and we think. More than anything else, we want to connect. Even if that connection is a tenuous or contentious one.
We want to be seen. Truly seen. And heard.
Words spoken from the heart, with boldness and transparency, are welcome to even the most disparate of listeners. Fear not the estrangement of others, but rather the complacency.
I will say it again... this is not about blogging or writing. This is the truth about communication and relationships as I know it across the board. This is true of friends, of caregivers, of lovers, of co-workers, of religious leaders, of politicians, of teachers, of family. Talk to me like an adult. I can take it. I can take you.
Don't fear my opinion. Fear my indifference.
Live wide open.
I'm talking to you.