It’s early, dark and quiet in the house, but already warming up here in my kitchen. I woke too soon, with a dream, and wonder what we did with early morning insomnia here in Alberta before central heating and power and laptops and the Internet. I’m in love with these aspects of modern life—they take the edge off the ghosts that sometimes visit.
I used to write a health column, and recently, transferring my documents from my old desktop to my MacBook, came across the wonderful reader mail that kept me writing. The hate mail, I never kept. But it has remained in my psyche.
When did we go from disagreeing with one another respectfully and reasonably, to labeling as morons, or worse, those we don’t agree with? Writers are supposed to be immune to hate mail; it’s part of the job after all, but some of us aren’t immune to it at all.
Either way, what does it say about us as a society that we’ve devolved in this manner, that we cowardly silence voices of dissent with abuse just because the anonymity of the Internet makes it easy to do so?
The effect this hate has had on me is that, while not completely silenced, I no longer readily wade into the topics that have generated hate in the past. And yet, those topics are also the very topics I’m passionate about, and that generated mountains of gratitude from readers thankful that someone was listening when the corporate media refused to.
But to be a voice of dissent one must first make peace with one’s self. Over the years, and not just with my writing, I’ve been told that I’m kind and thoughtful, but also that I’m insensitive. I’ve been told I’m unassuming and generous, but also that I want too much. I’m too much a realist, but also too optimistic. I reveal too much of myself; I reveal too little. I expect too much; I expect too little. I’m stoic; I’m bogged down in self-pity. I’m earnest and serious-minded and idealistic; my enthusiasm and joy are irritating. I don’t assert myself enough; I assert myself easily, and it’s intimidating. I work too hard; I work too little. I’m too easily influenced; I’m stubborn. I’m courageous, or impulsive; I’m too measured, and let fear hold me back.
Which of these contradictions have any truth applicable to me, I wonder, and which ought to have been quickly dismissed as projections, as the truth of a single source in that moment?
I’ve always understood, cerebrally at least, that we can’t please everyone. I understand that we can survive disapproval, but I also understand that when disapproval is abusive, it creates enormous stress in our bodies. And in tension with that, I understand that it matters very much to my health that I speak my truth.
So I may, with this blog, from time to time wade into some of those topics that have in the past generated such emotional responses, or I may mostly avoid them; I don’t really know yet. But if I’m busy posting trivia (as I’ve been know to do on Facebook), you’ll understand why.
Daylight has arrived, and outside my window, a fresh dusting of the whitest snow on naked branches.