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An unexpected thing happened in recent weeks. I thought about and planned this blog for so many months, and I never thought I’d be afraid of it, afraid to tell the truth. I never thought I’d spend the first two months after it really started fighting off a heaviness I’ve not seen in years. I never thought I’d talk about that here, because it’s not what I want to say or what I want you to hear. But it’s part of making my way.

It’s the rhythm of blogging that eludes me a little, the balance between honesty and image, especially when I know at this point that almost anyone that reads this knows me already. And it’s probably not just here that it eludes me; it seems like I spend a lot of time negotiating between who I am and who I hope I’m becoming (who I really am!). They’re both very persuasive.

I want to write things that are funny and insightful, hopeful, challenging, and beautiful. I want to capture the extraordinary moments in the process, the every-day amazing that feeds both my delight and desire for what comes next. My heart’s desire: to live. I want to leave out the hard moments (the hard days), concerned they’ll crowd out the others on this screen, and that you’ll wonder too much if I’m ok (I am!).

I have a sweet friend who’s often told me to be raw, to not always insist on being finished and together. I know she’s right. It seems a little to me like asking for the first draft of a poem or a half-cooked meal, but I guess finished products are harder to wait for in people. Postcards from perfect moments are nice for sharing from a distance, but it’s the rambling and sometimes desperate letters that draw us into each other’s lives; they‘re the moments I’m thrilled to share with people I love and that I miss most when they‘re not around. I love to be part of their living, of being rough drafts together. We live life together believing we’re changed together. Your glory-to-glory is mine too; sometimes we hold onto it for each other when it gets slippery and look together for the extraordinary.

So we’ll get this out of the way. Not all of my days are perfect, and I occasionally lose sight of their extraordinariness. If I wait to only write on the days that I have everything together, I’ll never do it, and I’m not ready to give it up. And honestly, the writing helps me get it together. Putting it here is about sharing, about knowing there’s someone else making their way to something hard to see, figuring out the way to get there, even on the days that don’t seem particularly funny or insightful. I’m only afraid of hard days if they don’t lead me anywhere, that don’t get me closer. You remind me – the yous I know and don’t know – we have somewhere to go.

Last week I was invited to join a Facebook group celebrating my 11th grade English teacher and his classes.  He was that great, fun teacher, letting us write quotes on the walls and sit on an old couch.  He introduced me to William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Pat Conroy, and to Toni Morrison, who helped me fall completely in love with words and language.  He also gave us vocabulary, and lots of it.  I still have the stacks of index cards, cataloging words that I’m pretty sure live only to be used on the SAT and in The New Yorker.  The invitation’s timing was a fun coincidence, because I’d just been remembering all that as I considered naming this blog.  I really wanted it to be “Searching for Propinquity”.

propinquity (n.) – proximity; nearness in space and time

I’ve always loved that definition, the picture it gives, the idea it represents:  being close to something in multiple dimensions.  Sadly I think the word itself is just a little lacking in finesse and a little too much for what we’re doing here.  For a while a few years ago, I actually convinced myself that the word was propensity, which I promptly began using incorrectly and is something else entirely.  I also recently discovered through a little Googling that propinquity is a big concept in social psychology, including something called the propinquity effect.  It sounded kind of fascinating, and maybe it’s relevant, but in the end it was just too much to sort out for naming a blog. 

Still, it’s kind of what this is all about.  We want to be near, to be close, and even when we’ve found that closeness, it draws us in and we want other people to have it too.  I think often that’s why we’re so struck by writing or music or art.  I hear or read or see something and the distance between me and the creator disappears, because it’s explained me better than I can explain myself.  In that moment we’ve been seen, understood, and connected.  And then we want to share, post it, tweet it, pass it out – “look at this, listen; this is me. ” We see and feel and know, and want to know that someone else does, too.

It’s a tricky desire, this need for closeness, and it’s full of dangerous points that I still only navigate with moderate success (I’m remembering Relational Dialectics theory, but we’ll save that for another post, maybe after the one about why I’m having all these school flashbacks!).  

The point is, I think (and write) on these things a lot – relationships, connection – sometimes obsessively, because I know when we get them right, they’re amazing and worth all the effort.  If you get tired of hearing about it, or have it all figured out and can fill me in, let me know.  I’ll switch topics to being the father of a two-year-old girl, which makes all this seem easy.