I’m a journaler. It is the single, constant thread throughout my life.
Am I a writer?
It’s odd how extraordinarily complex that question is. Especially in a culture where “what do you do?” is an implied question of the occupation for which you earn your living. (And no, that is not so everywhere.) And for reasons complex and layered, even excepting the occupational part of the label, it has always seemed like a limiting question. Like, “yes, but…”
It’s too narrow, somehow. But I am a journaler. I do not get paid for it and yet am unquestionably enriched by it.
I think that moving all, or even most, of that into this space would be debilitating and stupid.
What I must do, however, is take some of the naked, unprotected, unmerciful honesty of those pages – especially the most honest ones, the ones written in secret code¹ and kept secret for decades (from everyone but my mom) and let it loose in the world.
Let it brave the high seas.
Truth is a sword, a powerful weapon who takes no prisoners and spares not her speaker. Once unleashed, it rages beyond the control of man.
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I loved your comment. I heard this author, Will Storr – (“Selfie”) – on the Ezra Klein podcast recently, and he clarified that point in a way that really brought it to life for me and sort of altered my perspective on so much else. It feels like a mostly unnoticed, but absolutely foundational issue buried deep within all the increasingly unsustainable problems in America. (As well as other places, but in this case I think it’s pretty fair to say that America has been the primary driver.) Suddenly, in every major systemic issue, from wealth inequality and the parasitic illegality of Wall Street, to huge corporate greed being able to increase that greed through unfettered manipulation of government, and even issues of war and peace; seeds of the meaning of “what are you” are suddenly apparent. I’m not hyping the show but loved your comment so I figured I’d pass it on, just in case. (Don’t know whether this applies, but it’s also noted as “definitely in the top five Ezra Klein Show episodes to listen to stoned”😉)
I was so surprised the first time I made friends with some European international students in university and discovered that in many parts of the world, people don’t actually know what their friends do for a living. It would be nice if we could un-couple our jobs from our identities a little more.
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