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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

 

Revenge on a post-it note

Hi. So here I am. With my own blog. I don't read a lot of blogs, but the ones I've seen tend to consist of short, pithy or ironic comments and observations. This makes me critical: if you're going to publish yourself, don't go half-way - let it all hang out. Life is not a sit-com. And yet, the inner critic says, "keep it in check"- no one likes excessive navel gazing. And so we land on one of the central paradoxes of self-expression. Well - and this will be revealing of my personality - I'd rather err on the side of too much than too little... of over-reaching versus holding back. In the improv class I took this fall it was all about honesty - be as real as possible, and the audience will respond. So here I am. I will try to be real.

I have a lot to say. I say most of it in my journal. Sometimes I read my journal entries to my husband, who tells me I should turn them into something I can share with a larger audience. He says – and friends have said – that I have a way of putting feelings into words that is unique, and that resonates. They are, admittedly, biased, and as any of you who are writers or artists of any stripe will know, it is easier to assume you are average, or no good, than it is to think perhaps you have something worth sharing with the world. This blog represents my first attempt at taking that plunge.

Please accept my expressions as just that: my expressions. I do not think I am a remarkable talent, but lately I have come to believe that the simple act of expression is a remarkable act of communion with the world. A long time ago, at the peak of my teenage journal scribbling and poetry writing, I found a post-it note that said, “Expression is not a virtue.” At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, that post-it note nearly ruined my life. I believed it. I believed suddenly and painfully that the writing that had meant so much to me meant nothing, was self-indulgent unremarkable navel-gazing.

In college these feelings intensified as I became more aware of the world and everything that was wrong with it. I read And the Band Played On, I learned about the culture of poverty in the inner city, and I felt useless and small. At the same time I became convinced that I needed to do everything I could to save the world. Nothing small counted. Which is maybe why I never volunteered or did anything other than become increasingly paralyzed and desperate.

At some point I decided that "Schindler’s List" was the model to aspire to – using the power of communication to profoundly change people’s consciousness. (Which in retrospect sounds like a tremendous God complex, but it was how I felt.) Dreams of saving the world mixed with old dreams of being very famous. Watching the Oscars sent me into a deep depression. I thought I was depressed that my life would never be in the spotlight (no Annie Liebowitz photo shoot, no reporter analyzing my every gesture and comment), but really (I think) it was jealousy that these people got to be creative and have fun… and that was off-limits.

I will spare you the complete narration of my journey from that fateful post-in note up to now – it will, I expect, be a central theme of this blog moving forward. This is only to introduce myself. I don’t aspire to fame anymore – the Oscars now strike me as a disappointing marketing machine, and while I’d love to be on the cover of Vanity Fair one day, it’s because I believe that things become interesting when we focus on them, and I would like to see how I’d come out. If you stick with me you will soon discover that I am obsessed with meaning – finding my purpose in the world, exploring the real meaning of things, never skimming the surface. It can be exhausting, yes, but also exhilirating and deeply fulfilling. I hope you’ll take some pleasure in the ride, and, if I’m being honest, I hope you’ll find some inspiration and insight, too.

Comments:
Amanda,
Profound & Poetic - Keep writing and searching - I'll be reading.
Pen
 
There is a fabulous but anonymous artist who creates the gorgeous murals you see around town. Perhaps you could find out who it is and let us know someting about this person. I think I heard somewhere that you ran into the person once and said, "Anonymous, it's not always all about you."
 
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