We often try to apply the same principles to the words we find onscreen as to the words that are spoken face to face, even though we know there is a wide gulf between the two. The words onscreen are only a record of a thought once had. The message documents expression, but there is no real experience in the hard, cold display of text. Even so, we mistakenly try to glean meaning from it, to tear it to pieces until we have found the true self of the other in this little isolated fragment. But this is no more them, this is no more real, than the whispers of the world or the lists of exterior acts define our own vast ocean of self.
Presence is real. This is the realest thing there is, and there is nothing of it on the screen.
Many times we are waiting for the words to come as we would shape them, yet we are each our own in the words we would use. We must learn to grant the freedom of expression and of soul to the other.
Many times we are waiting for the phone to ring, and it does not. Yet why do we weigh ourselves down with projected rejection, simply because the other was not confined in our arbitrary, self-imposed frame?
When we enter the world, awareness sets in. A sense of the other is eternally present, an internalized gaze directed towards us from those capable of judgement and praise. The significance lies not in the fact that we are being seen, but in the knowledge that we are being seen and how this affects our own actions.
Our current culture emphasizes visibility in all aspects of life. Social media actively promotes the constant display of private, everyday activities. Perception is everything. There seems to be an unstated assumption that unless something is documented, it doesn’t matter; that unless something is shared, it has no worth. Actions begin to gain value for how they can be shown to others, rather than for the carrying out of the actions themselves.
Does this heightened awareness influence our behaviour? I would argue that it alters our intentions and expression of self quite profoundly. Our intentions are what direct our path; they are the foundation and motivation behind our actions. So what happens when thoughts of external reactions begin to seep into our plans and decision-making processes? What happens when we set out to do something with the knowledge of how it will make us appear?
The hardest thing in life is learning to be your own person. The world proclaims the glory of the self-made man, of the almighty individual. We learn that life is something you must do alone, that who you are is less important than what you make of it, and that this outcome is entirely dependent on your own merits and efforts.
No wonder self-discovery is so difficult. What a horrible place to live: beneath the pressure and the condemning whispers, beneath our own weaknesses, since our merits and efforts inevitably lead to failure. I am afraid to become this kind of person, because I know alone I am not enough. But learning to be your own person does not involve overcoming this fear of individuality; it involves turning to the source of our true identity and individuality.
I want to say something that has probably been said a million times before. It’s about reading- in case you couldn’t tell from the title- and why we could all benefit from doing more of it. I hope the following words don’t simply sound like a hollow advertisement, a brochure about the importance of books, especially in this “modern” world.
So how do I create something new out of a message that is tired and overdone? Maybe I won’t accomplish this feat at all, but I think I’ll make my attempt by detailing my own reading experiences. I have always loved writing, so perhaps it goes hand in hand that I’ve always loved reading as well. The two are closely related, obviously. From reading, I have learned a lot about ways to weave words together, and through reading, I continue to gain new insight that helps me to hone my craft.