Thursday, January 13, 2005

Candid Does Not Equal Vulnerable

Last night I went to hear Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz speak at the Belcourt. I expected a lecture and got a book reading instead, a surprise for which my frazzled mind applied much gratitude. An even bigger surprise, however, laid in the personal revelation I drew from the question and answer time. Someone in the audience asked Don how he could be so vulnerable in his writing. His first, and characteristically comical, answer was that it's easy to be vulnerable when you don't think anyone is listening, or in this case, reading. Expanding upon this thought, Miller cited artist David Wilcox's answer to such a question. Let me paraphrase it this way: unless you give people the opportunity to hurt you, they can never be close to you. Miller, in turn, decided that he wanted people to be close to him, so he opened up.

I share this all here because, honestly, this blog began as a medium in which I might express my vulnerability. As I listened to Don last night I thought about how right he was. It's easier to be vulnerable when you don't think anyone is reading. I've said that the most powerful music and writing occurs when the audience feels as though they have stumbled upon the artist in an intimate moment; one they feel almost ashamed to peer at and yet one from which they cannot pull away because it resonates so much within their own hearts and longings. However, the magic only works so long as the artist continues unaware of intruders.

I have been that person here. I have tried. I have also hidden her from the glaring eyes; an admission that hurts because, like Donald Miller, I want to be close. Last night I realized, however, no matter how many deep secrets I tell you or lies I dispel, I am merely being candid. You see, I've found that I can reveal myself to you without being vulnerable. I can be honest and still be safe. But it is in this safety that my ability to be vulnerable dies. It is in this safety that my conversations and relationships become more shallow. It is in this safety that the living well of my relationship with God evaporates to a mere puddle, the ground water dried, the crops malnourished or dead.

You see, I need not worry about being candid with God because He knows everything anyway. There is nothing a I can hide from Him. Being vulnerable, however, involves being candid with myself; revealing to myself the truths and lies from which I hide. What I learned is that I can not be vulnerable with you because I am not honest with myself. That lesson, in itself, may be the first act of honesty I have taught myself in quite some time. Perhaps it will continue. We shall see.