It is hard sometimes, to find the right balance as a writer. I think this comes from the fact that writing is a form of ‘self’ expression. Those who put their work out into the public domain are also putting their ‘self’ on display for others to either criticize or admire.
I started writing this blog four years ago to talk about aging and introversion. Since then, I have been joined by others. When I mentioned to someone recently that I wrote on a blog called Aging Introvert, she said, “There are many like you.”
The ‘tribe’ I was looking for is starting to materialize. Through writing about my life, I have found others who understand what I’m talking about. I am no longer pissing in the wind or crying in the wilderness.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that I now have over 500 followers. This did not happen overnight. There have been people who followed me for a while and then either got mad or became disinterested and left. I often go ‘off topic’ and wander into areas that have nothing to do with aging or introversion.
I also have a tendency to lecture, judge and criticize, three things that are detrimental to writing in a heartfelt, genuine way. There is a big difference between writing intelligently about serious issues and being a crank.
When I was in college, I took a poetry class and chose a non-traditional, feminist poet to do my final paper on. This was in the late 1970’s, a time when what constitued a ‘woman’s voice’ was being re-imagined. I got a C on the paper, in large part because the instructor preferred women poets who wrote like Emily Dickinson.
I now find this same re-imagining going on in the writing of women who are childless or childfree, who are lone, and who are struggling with aging. Society likes to put everything into neat boxes that stack up correctly with the other boxes, but living ‘free’ is a radical departure from the norm. This new state of being has to find a voice, and through this voice, restructure language to acknowledge its existence.
Studs Turkell said this about Alice Koller, “She evokes an independence of spirit, the hallmark of a free being, male or female.” In the book, At the Existentialist Cafe, the author said about Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, “They were both individualists, and both were contrarians by nature, dedicated to making people uncomfortable. Both must have been unbearable to spend more than a few hours with.”
I liked this description of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard because this is how people would describe me. If I had a gravestone (which I will not), it would say, ‘She pissed people off.’ I am not a quiet sufferer of anything, and the older I get, the more I eschew the propaganda about the redemptive value of suffering. I don’t like suffering and nobody else does either, so I will keep trying to kick this can over the cliff. It is only through joyous being that a person can grow and evolve to their full potential.
At the very end of my mother’s transition, when I was struggling to get the last boxes out to the dumpster, a man in the lobby looked at me and said, “Are you doing all of this by yourself?” When I said yes, he offered to help. Even though he only took three boxes to the dumpster, I felt like hugging him. I finally felt ‘seen’ by someone who acknowledged how hard it all was.
As an unpopular person, I am especially delighted by random acts of kindness. For some strange reason, (while I was staying at my mother’s apartment) I always got the same cab driver when I called the cab company. After several rides, he seemed to adopt me. He would ask me about my mother and my life, and tell me about his life. Once, when he was unavailable, he called one of his fellow cab drivers and said, ‘pick this lady up and take good care of her.’ On my last ride, I gave him a big tip and he gave it back to me saying, ‘no, you don’t have to do that.’
My goal as a writer is to make my direct experience a part of the dialogue on issues that are crucial to enhancing my joyous being. I want people to ‘take notice’ of my life in a way that furthers understanding and acceptance. To the extent that I can provide critical thinking, intelligent analysis, philosophical rigor, and random shots of joyous being into this blog, I am inspired to continue.