Earlier this week, I read something that sounded too goody-two-shoes to be true, but which made my blood boil and my resolve harden!
But before I launch into a tirade, let me take a deep breath and consider why I nearly reached boiling point.
Then I’ll come back to explain what I mean.
My Blog’s Voice – Raw & Real
When I started this blog, my idea was to chart my raw and unfinished journey as a parent, a writer and an observer of life in this fascinating world we live in.
To add my voice to the many out there because I believe I too have something to say.
Along the way, I’ve also blogged about my struggles being a stay-at-home-dad and a caregiver for a son with autism. In fact, these two close-to-my-heart topics have been my cornerstone content for most of the 100+ entries I’ve posted since my blog was launched.
One of the things I told myself along the way was that I wanted to keep all my posts raw, true, and painfully authentic. No pat answers or pleasant shelters from the storms of life, thank you very much.
If I sound clueless at times, then I probably am.
If I look stupid, then I look stupid.
If what I write proves controversial and even explosive, like an erupting volcano that leaves a trail of wreckage in its wake, so be it.
After all, it’s reality, not a reality show (take that POTUS!).
My posts shouldn’t have those “It-worked-for-me-so-it’ll-work-for-you-too!” crap. None of those gratuitous, self-congratulatory schmuck. Or peacock-preening parade, or contrast-gaining rubbish that constantly proliferates the world wide web.
Let’s face it.
The constant deluge of colourful texts, technicolor-filtered pictures peppering the online world, with shots of the happiest faces, most delectable dishes and irresistibly-exotic places.
It can all get a bit much, don’t you think?
Kinda like the endless buffet table spreads I once found at Shady Maple Smorgasbord in the USA way back in 2004 (that place really lives up to its name!).
Behold this world’s beauty….and base
Of course there’re lots of beauty in the world, natural or otherwise. But the world’s also flawed and hopelessly imperfect, no?
Yet you wouldn’t know it, going by the kind of feel-good stories and competition-worthy photos populating the web. I guess people just don’t want the ugly truth cos well, the daily news is already inundated with reports of civil unrest, pandemics and nuclear threats.
People just want the happy endings promised in every fairy tale ever read or staged, every Disney movie ever made.
Now please, don’t get me wrong. I get it. I really do.
No one needs to tell me twice that these stories restore for many the hope and belief that things will get better. Of course we want that. Who doesn’t?
But life is real, not reel. It’s lived daily on the pavements down below, not in the penthouses up above. Unfortunately, this truism seems to be invisible to those of us too smitten with friends’ Instagram pictures of the latest OOTD or afternoons spent pumping iron at the gym just to look good topless.
Well, I don’t know about you, but…
…I’ve just about had
Stop for a minute and ask yourself:
Do you really LEARN ANYthing you can use from these rags-to-riches, success-upon-success, feel good about your self-image and super-brand thyself stories and Leica-quality photos?
I mean really.
Do you? Do we?
…watching Lang Lang play the piano automatically makes you think you too can be a keyboard maestro?
…viewing Youtube videos on how to swim or ride a bike turn an amateur into a Joseph Schooling or an Egan Bernal?
…hearing how someone who managed to “have his/her cake and eat it too” imply that we can have that same experience as well?
Which brings me to…
…what sparked this sudden and volatile post (for which I do apologise).
The truth is I’m done. Or rather, I’m undone by what I read earlier this week.
It was an article on how someone made a “wrong” choice but still ended up roses. Because I know the person, I prefer not to “out” this person by including any links here to the article in question.
The story though is a perfect illustration of what I rally against. While I’m happy that things ended Disney-well for this person, I learnt practically nothing from the tale. And I’m doubtful anyone else did.
You see, the way the story was written leaves you thinking how wonderful this person’s life turned out despite the “wrong” choices initially made. Which was, no doubt, the writer’s intent. Stories of conquering the odds and all are always a draw.
But where are the details of the dark days? What got the person and affected ones through the bleakest periods?
Nothing. There was nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. There were abundant evidence of material success and wealth in the story.
And that was about it.
So in the end, we learned nothing. What seemed at first to be universal in its appeal proved nothing more than merely particular in its “use-ability”. How many of us are privy to the luxuries and advantages this person had to begin with?
If I had my way, I would have relegated this person to a side show illustration and install the “real protagonist” to the story: the challenge of meeting difficulties head-on and in doing so, undergoing a painful transcendence that forever changes one from the inside out.
We never got to see that with this article. Everything that ought to have been tough got neatly resolved and packaged with beautiful pink bows and ribbons.
In short, a reel life script that offered nothing real to hold on to.
Resolve now hardened
So here’s me saying that I am more hardened now in my resolve to never paint any part of my raw and unfinished journals that way. Not to colour my life in such paltry paisley palettes, with sunset golden hues and all.
Instead, my writing’s always going to be about one man’s ongoing motion towards transcendence and transfiguration. Even if I never quite arrive at anything other than turmoil and tangle.
Cos that’s what this world really is. A messy smorgasbord. A work-in-progress. An apprentice in tutelage.
But from the ashes, blood and tears come deeper meanings and insights, born from tumults and toils in the trenches of life.
And hopefully from there, you the reader too will have a glimpse into your own journey and transformation.
To the reassuring words of a literary agent Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel once sought advice from: “Just write as well as you can“, I would like to add:
Just write what’s true and right
Even if it leads to a fight
Even if it leads to escape and flight
Even if it brings on the darkest night
Even if it feeds an endless fright
Just write what’s true and right.