Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lessons (What I Learned From Peeing)

Dear Chuck,

Last night I checked in on a favorite blog of mine. The author is an open-soul sort, the kind who realizes some of the things she does on a daily basis are a little embarrassing and posts them on her blog anyway because that's how she is. That's not all she writes about, but those are the posts I find most entertaining.

Today her post was about being out of her house for the first time since she had her baby two weeks ago, and how she laughed so hard she peed her pants, and she was pretty sure people noticed, because she was on a stage singing for a large group of people at the time it happened. Some of her commenters suggested she was either an idiot or had no shame for this post, and they wished she would post about nicer things than peeing on herself.

Your mother, in true-to-herself fashion, could only laugh. In fact, I chuckled so loudly I startled the dog out of a solid sleep, and he glared at me as only dogs can do. What tickles me so much about these posts and this author is how honest she is with her readers. There's a life lesson in that, and I wanted to share it with you.

When you write a blog, or keep a journal, or attempt to record any part of life, what you get are snapshots; moments that can be removed from an entire experience and reflect whatever side you want. Human nature tends to seek out the shiny, happy moments; ones we can enjoy as light pleasantness without getting broader, more complicated emotions involved. It doesn't just happen in blogs, though. It happens when we answer the question, "How are you?" with "Fine," even if everything is not. It happens when we avoid making eye contact with the homeless person sitting on the sidewalk, or refuse to see a doctor regularly "because what if he finds something?". Feigning ignorance of all things unpleasant is a way many of us go through life, and I think that only serves to alienate us from each other further. When all you can see around you is shiny, happy perfection (whether it's real or not), you can start to feel like the less-perfect stuff you're going through means you don't measure up; like the something that is wrong is never, ever going to be right again and your life is a miserable failure.

Repeat after me, Charlotte; perfection is plastic; those snapshots aren't real. You are never alone in the world. When your life seems dark and scary, and you've peed your pants onstage in front of a bunch of people, the best thing to do is share your imperfections and laugh, because that's what life really looks like, and who knows? You might help someone who is going through the same thing realize they aren't alone either.

I love you, my ornery marker-wielding darling.