This will be short, because I have to go home and pee. Why do I tell you that? Because I enjoy saying things that people shouldn’t say in polite company. Because I think it’s funny. It’s funny because it’s true. And inappropriate.
Much of what I have to say is short-sighted or self-pitying or self-indulgent or exaggerated for the purposes of entertainment. This is performance. When I write blog posts, as when I write songs or poems, everything is excused on the grounds of free expression. Is this valid? Depends on whom you ask. Do I think this is valid? I’m beginning to re-examine that.
The problem is not that I am self-indulgent on my personal blog. I write and publish here because I enjoy writing and publishing. Ultimately, I won’t change what I write for anyone, although I can’t pretend to not care at all what you all think. I crave validation, sometimes more (when I’m not feeling secure), sometimes less (when I have been able to cultivate some serenity). This is human. But so are rape and murder, and neither of those are excusable either.
The problem is that I have difficulty distinguishing between the appropriate forum for performance, self-indulgence, exaggeration, drama, and fora that call for simple, genuine honesty. My relationships have suffered because of this, and so has my recovery from mental illness and addiction.
Sunday, when I delivered a mini-lead at a meeting, I was not so subtly accused of “whining” by one cantankerous old drunk. I did not intend to whine. Only to deliver my honest experience, strength, and hope, setting forth the relevant facts of my life, saying what I needed to to stay sober and “carry my message.” But I have been second guessing myself. Did I dwell too much on the negative because it made a better story? Was I dishonest with myself, convincing me that I have less positive experience, less strength and hope than I do? Drama is one thing–it’s place is on the stage (or “the stage”–or is that a vague cop out designed to extend its legitimacy into everyday life?). Telling lies to oneself so that one can lie to others, convincing oneself of one’s hopelessness and tragic fate … well, I guess it does a disservice, or something worse, to everyone involved.
The answer touted by AA is to turn outward. Navel-gazing leads to nowhere good. I’m thinking of this as I contemplate creating a daily podcast that would consist of my improvised monologues and musical selections first thing in the morning, when I am sleepy and discombobulated. Do I think I have anything useful or important to share first thing in the morning? Not really, but it sounds like an interesting experiment, and I was thinking that surprisingly good things might spring from it, as a secondary product of the process, maybe one person in a similar situation will not feel so alone, or maybe something helpful will jump unbidden out of my mouth. Or, this is just an excuse for further navel gazing.
Remember: The unexamined life is not worth living. But then again, the overly examined life can be pretty fucking pointless. What do you think?