avoiding cameras

there’s a spot to sit on top of the belmont parking lot that perfectly avoids any security cameras. i sat there for the first time a little over 5 years ago with a friend i’d just driven across the country with. i don’t remember how long we sat there or what the general conversation was about, but the one statement that stuck with me was an endeavour into honesty:

“there are some things i’ve been facing in myself and finally questioning. like why, when i walk down the aisle at the grocery store, i need every beautiful woman to notice me and think i’m good looking.”

i’d say it was the first time i experienced that sort of brutal self-honesty. previous to that time, as far as i knew, you were supposed to keep realizations like that to yourself. i did the same sort of thing, but i would never have admitted it. i was in awe that he would own up to such a thing – nay, he actually volunteered this sort of indicting information! i was amazed, but have actually never told him so. perhaps i will one of these near-future days.

i’ve courted honesty through several seasons – some healthier than others, but all of them necessary. these days i’ve gotten much better at the verbal kind of brutal truthfulness. i’d probably list every flaw i see in myself. i’d tell you any of the rotten things i’ve done or any of the sinewy thoughts i keep locked so tight inside my head. i’ll admit to any sort of weakness and give lip service to how important it is to fully experience your full range of emotions.

this week i was dealing with a few of these tougher issues and looking beneath the story to the real issues beneath what i was feeling at the time. i dove into a pretty intense conversation with a friend i rarely have the opportunity to speak to because they are currently living in africa.  though we talk seldom, it seems our conversations have a mandatory sort of depth. i felt safe and ended up unpacking a lot of it before i even realized i was doing so. at the end of our conversation i remember driving home and feeling very ashamed…almost mourning the loss of our friendship. my friend had seen me almost in desperation – albeit a mild sort of desperation. why would they want to continue befriending such a needy friend? i’m the one people come to…not the one who needs a shoulder to cry on! pull yourself together!

what i realized is that i’m just fine simply talking about all these weaknesses and issues i deal with in myself. in that sense, i’m as honest as they come. however i don’t like being seen when i’m entrenched in them; when i’m deep in my weakness and emotion…when i’m actually in need of something or someone. vulnerability is one thing to admit, but a much more difficult thing to actually feel. seems i avoid cameras in many more ways than one.

When I arrived home my friend had sent this poem. Enjoy.

Love after Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
—Derek Walcott


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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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