“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer,
is ultimately about asking yourself,
How alive am I willing to be?”
~ Anne Lamott
I wrote a piece last week that got chewed to bits on the interwebs.
Chewed. To. Bits.
I mean, not by everyone. Probably not by you.
But enough people pecked at it that I felt chewed up.
It was a story.
A story about my sons and their intentionality, their courage, their relationships, their sculpted natures as gentlemen. (I almost said “gentlemen in training,” but that’s not accurate. They are gentlemen now. Already. Today.)
I tossed it out there, and I gave it voice and breath and life.
And instead of a story for the sake of a story, a few mercurial readers took it as a statement on consent, women’s rights, and an attack on Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
I used to write for an online political magazine. The editors hired me to bring stories, to bring life and vibrancy and voice to the table. They didn’t ask me to be left or right, liberal or conservative, or even to have an opinion. They asked me to tell stories.
I had to stop. I had to quit that gig. I had to step away from that platform. I had to shut down the column and walk away because I discovered that nobody comes to a political site for stories. They come to argue. They came to disagree. And it got really toxic, really fast.
Last week reminded me of that, about the need to step away to protect my heart, my sons, my family. It reminded me of that feeling that it’s safer to be quiet than to say something lovely.
It reminded me why I stopped writing for a season.
Sometimes a story is a story is a story, just for the beauty of stories.
And as Anne Lamott also says, people are more hungry for story than they are for a glass of water.
I was bringing a glass of water to the table. I brought a story to the conversation.
Not an argument. Not a thesis. Not a contention with which to contend.
Listen, I can handle some disagreement. I don’t love it, I likely won’t debate it because that’s now how I’m wired, but I can handle it.
I can’t handle toxicity. And I won’t.
My space on the internet is like a party that I’m hosting, a dialogue I’ve invited you into. I treat it like a room in my home, and I’m curating the environment. I’m responsible for what is okay, what’s not okay, what is accepted, and what is not.
Last week, I blocked a few people from the conversation.
If I wouldn’t let them talk that way to guests in my home, then I won’t let it happen to friends on my page either.
I have a long fuse, but it is not endless.
Try not to argue with the storytellers.
The ones pouring the glass of water.
The ones who bring flowers to the dinner party.
If people pick the petals off the daises you bring to the table, you’ll stop bringing daisies to the table.
To those of you – and I believe it’s most of you – who are bringing the daisies,
Please. Keep bringing your daisies.
I’ll hold them with you.