Being honest with ourselves may be one of the most difficult tasks we’ll ever face. We shroud the truth in layer after layer of obscuring false trails, afraid to look it in the eye. Our truth is a Gorgon, we fear, and in that fear we are already petrified.
I see it, buried in the spaces between words and lines as a friend spills out line after line of truly personal details. There is an edifice built around everything she is not saying, a vault where the reality of the situation is tucked away. That truth, the one buried, is ultimately empowering, but all the signs on the walls of this monument say, “Here Be Dragons,” “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.” The signs are lies penned in fear and the stone walls of this cairn is only a house of cards.
I see it in my own self-reflection. The truth is a mountain, its peak veiled in clouds and I carve passes to either side, so close to reality that it’s hard to say I’m not on the mountain. But I don’t climb. I don’t take pick and piton and rope and set out to surmount my trepidation. How much easier to walk the paths along the gentle slopes at the base.
This mountain isn’t just a metaphor. It is Mount Fuji, the mountain I stared at from my apartment balcony for a year and never ventured to. I was afraid of it. Not the lightning storms that killed four that summer as they attempted what I did not. I was afraid of the aches and pains and too-taut muscles of my body and the strain I might put on them. The same fear I used as an excuse to avoid a military career. The excuse I use to avoid taking up running for exercise. I’ve always been one who claimed I didn’t have fears. It isn’t true. The truth is I have many fears and I’ve been afraid to face them. If I face my fears, I might be ashamed by them. I am afraid I will let myself down.
Fear is exhausting. It’s fatiguing. It wraps us up in a safe little word and we’re so excited to be sheltered that we don’t know that our breath is constricted, that our chest rises and falls, but so, so shallowly.
What amazes me most about this is how much simpler the truth makes things. How unfettered we are when we accept the truth and weed out all the crap that hides it.
What amazes me is that I’ve used so much flowery, vague language and metaphor and kept myself from truly talking about what I actually want to explore. This one’s going to take a while.