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People write for many reasons. Some say they can’t help themselves, they need to write in the same way that they need to breathe or eat. Some are polishing their writing skills by writing blogs so they can be better writers in general. Some people write because they are driven to make their case about a pressing social issue. Some people write because that’s how they process their thoughts and emotions. Some people just like to tell stories.
There is a difference between writing something for personal reasons and writing something for public consumption. The process of deciding how much of your writing to share with others is unique to the individual writer. Which brings me to the tricky question of figuring out how transparent to be in my own writing. I know the power of honest writing, transparent and authentic. I love Brennan Manning’s writing for this very reason. He shares honestly from his own journey as a former priest and recovering alcoholic, and I reap the benefits of his wisdom and experience. However, for me the whole idea of transparency presents a challenge.
I am a PK. The acronym stands for “preacher’s kid.” Frequently a learned reluctance to self-disclose is among the many consequences for anyone growing up in the goldfish bowl of a pastor’s home. My personal goldfish bowl had the added circumstance of being part of a very conservative and legalistic religious tradition. This kind of tradition tends to discourage transparency since every revealed shortcoming has the potential to bring harsh judgment and condemnation, up to and including questioning whether or not you’re “really saved.” No small threat there!
When I was a kid, I fell in love with the television program “Star Trek.” It had the most amazing stories. The characters were committed to one another and together they faced danger and death on a regular basis. More than anything else, I wished I could be a member of this team of smart, adventurous and caring individuals who never met a society-controlling computer they couldn’t dismantle….all within the confines of a one-hour episode. Wonderful stuff!!
One of the most fascinating things that happened in the Star Trek world was something called a “Vulcan mind meld.” (And for those of you who are Star Trek fans, yes, the pun was intentional.) Essentially two individuals were able to directly share their thoughts, emotions and memories without the need of a spoken language. I was intrigued by the possibility of communication without misunderstanding, the opportunity to completely understand someone else’s perspective and experience. We all seem to be entranced by the idea of knowing and being known. I love this quote from Joseph Pine: “The experience of being understood versus interpreted is so compelling you can charge admission.”
I have begun to wonder, though, whether my assumption that being able to effectively read the mind of another person would actually make honest communication easier. I don’t think it’s so much the mechanism of communication that matters. It’s being willing to risk transparency that matters.