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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Honesty


So. I’m sitting here at the computer, red-eyed and lost in thought.

I’ve been thinking about honesty and all the implications. I’ve been thinking about the fact that I began posting my thoughts and feelings in this venue called a “blog” almost four years ago...315 entries ago.
I stated my earnest intentions in my very first entry. They haven’t changed. I had no desire to write for an audience (I only had an “audience” of one, initially, anyway). I was simply chronicling the thoughts that sprang from within. Striving to be honest, as best
I could.

It hasn’t been easy.

It is so very tempting (gratifying, even) to present a work of fiction.
A beautiful story about a beautiful man feeling beautiful emotions and thinking beautiful thoughts such that readers become enamored or enthralled, clapping and cheering and melting with desire (well, females, anyway). It’s tempting. Truly, truly tempting.

But what would be the point of that? My life’s no romance novel. Never was.

I wanted to create a memoir for myself, given that Alzheimer’s has haunted both sides of my family and every branch. As I stagger to the end of my sixth decade, I feel an ever greater urgency to capture all that resonates inside. There may come a time when I shall have to sit and read these words from start to finish in order to discover a person named Jonas.

But there’s more to it than that. I feel a need, a burning desire, to confront who I am and was. I don’t want to breathe my last as a fictional being hiding behind a mask. I’ve worn too many masks for far too long (out of necessity, mostly...sometimes from fear and shame...at times, simply to be loved and admired). There’s precious little time left for that. It serves no purpose to belie my realities.
If one aspires to be “authentic” well, one had better do it before Death comes knocking. The hourglass keeps draining towards empty.

But honesty doesn’t come easily. No, it’s far easier to keep pretending I’m better than who I am. Nobler, braver, taller, thinner, more beautiful, more talented and virtuous than who I truly am. It’s hard work to tear away the veils, cull the dross, scrape away the patina or the crusted shell. I’ll readily admit that I do censor myself in many ways, but mostly out of respect for the privacy of others. I’ve hardly said a word about my friends, the people I love so dearly. They all have their own stories, but those stories remain theirs to tell.

I’ve expended little effort to document every facet of my life and being. Most are just not all that important in the grand scheme of things. The hunt for the “essential” me is challenging enough.

It isn’t easy to be honest. Particularly while floating in cyberspace. Readers come and go...and I miss each and every one (the ego simply cannot be denied). I’ve watched stalwarts turn their backs and walk away upon discovering my failings and my frailties. Some leave out of boredom, I suppose. I can’t say that I blame them. I understand.
My life has not been pretty. In fact, it’s been quite the mess in many ways over the course of many years. I burn with shame...it’s an eternal flame.

It isn’t easy to be honest because honesty demands that we stand naked before a flawless full-length mirror to confront our flaws, the wounds and scars and...well...c’mon...how many of us actually want to do that? Not I, not this graying man who no longer exudes the beauty of youth. It’s hard enough to face myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth.

Honesty doesn’t come easily. I wonder if I am to die alone because my truths repel. It’s a sorrowful outcome to contemplate. And yet, I’d rather die alone than pretend to be someone I am not. I’m all
I got, and if that’s not enough, I’ve got nothing.

* * *

15 Comments:

Blogger citizen of the world said...

I'll take an honest blog over one that is written to maintain an illusion any day. I don't reveal everything but I have made a deal with myself that what I do reveal will be honest. Even if it means I look scared or sad or angry or petty at times. Becasue I am scared and sad and angry and petty sometimes. I write as a way to journal my life for myself, mostly, but the "audience" has become intoxicating for me. Such an amazing give and take out there, with such a variety of folks.

But maybe if you are in the process of embracing who you really are, flaws an all, you can let go of the shame? I hope so.

Wed Mar 18, 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

I don't know Jonas. Alot of people here really like what you write. Apparently the real Jonas is more fascinating than the fake Jonas.

And from reading some of the replies to your posts, I believe they made some of the ladies swoon. That's an acheavement all by itself.

And here is one of my favorite Emerson quotes.

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

Wed Mar 18, 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Woman in a Window said...

Jonas, ok, that's enough. First of all, is your icon picture you? Be honest. Mine is not. Just a woman in a window. And what, sixth decade and not beautiful? Not buying it. You've a beautiful soul, i think. Forget the rest. Give yourself the bird as you brush your teeth. And (I'm inciting today) I don't buy that fiction is necessarily dishonest. You can write. Write it. Whether or not it happened, if it is of you, it is real. Ah, all bungled today but know this, your living is not done. Go. Do it! (I don't mean this in mean spirit at all. Just a fire beneath you.)

Wed Mar 18, 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger tipota said...

awe. thats what i feel when i read this. absolute awe, and courage. this is the kind of courage i need to reflect upon. thank you, jonas.

Wed Mar 18, 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger joanne said...

with the passage of time it becomes so much more difficult to tend to the masks and illusions... i think it has worn me out...

there are still glimpses at times and i laugh when i catch myself... which is what i have come to love about photography and self portraits... yes, my hair really is that gray and yes, it started to go that way in my late 20s... and no, i don't dye it... that little voice cropped up and said to me "you should hide that picture away" ... so i posted it instead... the internet is an interesting place for working out personal transparency, isn't it?

but life is messy for all of us... there are things i am sorry for, ashamed of... things i wish i had done differently, regrets... things about me that make people flee from me... and yes it does hurt when that happens... but i am what i am and i can't undo any of it just because i wish i could... the only way to move is forward... with honesty and the hope that in taking the next step i do so with a clearer vision of who i am... it just somehow feels right to do that...

what you are reaching for in yourself in your writing touches on that same something in others, that same longing to just be free of all that enslaves them...

i am grateful there are courageous people like you who do that... to light the way for all the rest of us who just might find the courage to do the same...

Wed Mar 18, 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Dear J... We all die alone. I think what is important is who we may touch along the path and who touches us. You my friend have touched us all at some point. Thank you for your words and for reminding me that we all have our own crosses to bear. Mine don't get reveled as often I originally had hoped. But I do let people into my Dark Cheesy side at times. Full length mirrors scare the crap out of me in my 6th decade as well.

Wed Mar 18, 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Can I let go of the shame, Ms. Citizen!?! Um, no. Catholic guilt is hard-wired in my brain. But, I'm OK with that. I'm of the school that believes: "Forgive others always, yourself never". While I suffer from shame, my instincts have propelled me to pursue excellence. It has been a fair trade.

You really ARE an Emerson fan, aren't you, Jay? Cool. Now go read some Neruda, Swenson and Oliver. You can thank me later.

I do love the fire that burns bright in you, Ms. Window! There are a few thoughts germinating in my head regarding self-portraits. They may or may not see the light of day (Oh, look! A squirrel!). I'm not as dour as I often appear. Suffice it to say, if I were blogging in my 30's, my thoughts would have been significantly different. Likewise in my 40's. I'm in my late 50's, now, and I'm contemplating the concerns of people my age. Check back when I'm in my 60's, I'll have morphed yet again. The human condition is NEVER static...that's part of the pleasure and the pain.

Ms. Tipota! You praise too much (I blush). My entry was not an act of courage. Not even close. It was an act of surrender that may someday lead to acceptance and wisdom...and peace.

You are a kindred spirit, Joanne! Gray hair rools!

I wish I could offer a pithy response, Ms. Cheese, but you've touched on subjects that bounce around in my mind constantly. Who knows? Some may someday appear as blog entries...

I want to thank you all...from my heart...for taking the time to read and respond.

I am grateful.

Wed Mar 18, 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Selma said...

I admire your honesty. It goes hand in hand with your grace. It is so important to learn to truly know ourselves. I believe that deep down, that is what we all want. Even though it can sometimes be hard to hear the truth, it is crucial not to run from it. Thank you for your insightful posts. They mean a lot!

Thu Mar 19, 04:28:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

"Now go read some Neruda, Swenson and Oliver. You can thank me later."

Looks like it's time to go to the library.

Thu Mar 19, 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger deb said...

I think being honest with yourself is one of the hardest things to do. It requires great courage and hard work. Accepting what you see in the mirror is the easy part, now turn your vision inwards, that's the hard part. But for me and I'm guessing you, not looking inward is even harder. Take care sweetie.

Thu Mar 19, 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger rebecca said...

I believe we all go through the same cycles in life. We begin our journey innocent and full of wonderment and hope and laughter and it is the point in life where we are most connected to our true selves. Then, for some sad reason, we let insecurities filter in and dictate. Then we find ourselves on the road of trying to fit in, wearing the masks that hides our truths but is agreeable to others. But because we are not honoring ourselves, sometimes those masks can be seen as hideous or unfriendly. And then we enter the Age of Sage - where we disencumber ourselves of what no longer fits or feels comfortable and we go in search of our truth - that place that we once inhabited when we were young and felt free. And because we feel liberated by this action of searching for our true self, because we feel happy in the search, we no longer care nor need the approval of others - those false idols that we worshipped and worshipped us in turn because with age comes wisdom and we finally realize that all of that was insignificant and false indeed.

Stay true to who you are dear Jonas, and you will always be at peace. And don't worry about what tomorrow might bring because you just might miss the beauty of today.

Fri Mar 20, 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger SixDegrees said...

Inspiring. Thank you.

Sun Mar 22, 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Donn Coppens said...

Wow. I can tell from all the comments that you underestimate your authenticity.

Even out here you can still tell when someone writes from the heart. Life is messy and nobody gets out alive. None of us can say that we were firing on all cylinders 24/7...and if they were we'd hate them anyway.

Like you I wanted to leave a smattering of who I think I am in the wake of my searching for who I really am and who I am becoming.

So don't be too hard on yourself, we're all out here bumping into things as we head towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

Mon Mar 23, 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Donn Coppens said...

Oh yeah, about Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving...I like what my Grandpapa used to say..
guilt schmilt!

Mon Mar 23, 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Roads said...

Honesty is the only course, always provided that no one gets hurt except yourself.

And anyway, I think we all share uncertainties and doubts. Life is full of mystery and surprises -- and one of my very favourite over-used sayings is 'you couldn't write the script.'

I've never doubted your honesty, Jonas -- because as with so many things in life, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried ;-)

Wed Mar 25, 11:41:00 AM  

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