Freedom of Expression
Some of you know this, but I lost my laptop charger at Greenbelt 2 weeks ago. Its been winding me up ever since, and its partly why a few days got missed in the usual blogging cycle. And its driving me potty. Its also reminding me just how important the gift of expression is, and how thankful I should be for it. From the political right to expression, to having the wherewithal to do it, its becoming rather obvious just how much I take it for granted.
When I was a child, a couple of times I began to keep a diary, a journal of what had been going on. Sometimes this was lamentably silly; I remember trying to keep my thoughts in a week-to-view pocket diary, and perpetually running out of space for a week’s thoughts by the second day. But over all, one experience stuck with me: my Mum’s reaction. She clearly thought this was childish folly, laughable, wanted to know who on earth I thought would want to read it, as if somehow things should only be written down if others are going to read them. Would I want to read them when I was older? And so my confidence would take a knock, I’d forget all about it, and I would go back to trying to find things that were “productive” enough to seem worthwhile.
My Mum, for those who don’t know, is obsessed with things being “productive”. Even her leisure pursuits are mostly productive: sewing and knitting the obvious examples. She doesn’t mind aesthetic production in due measure, but if it doesn’t produce something “worthwhile”, there can be no point. Also, if you don’t show obvious talent that could lead to you being “good” at something, you needn’t bother as others will do far better. I find this aspect of my upbringing to be both my greatest friend and worst enemy when choosing how to divide my time, and probably explains several of my obsessions.
Anyhow, suffice to say, I didn’t learn the skill of reflective writing as a child. I didn’t learn to express my feelings in writing, and I do think it has had a bad effect. I swore a long time ago that my children will have journals and be encouraged to use them, and also to learn to write poetry like all 13 year olds should. I never learnt to write poetry and to this day feel weirdly deprived as some of my best friends commit words to paper in this format to get themselves through really tough times.
And now without a simple piece of electrical equipment, I’m realising how much my blog means to me. And, for that much, how much it matters to be able to write things down or “say” them to the world whenever I want to. Its amazing how much emotion one can get rid of even on a blog like this one; compared to full-on life-angst blog this doesn’t seem quite as likely a means by which to drain oneself, but it sure works.
Writing has permanence. I learnt that quite a long time ago. Saying out loud how you feel just isn’t quite the same as writing it in stone, especially because you can’t play around with the words to make them fit, other than by repeating an entire sentence to change those couple of words that didn’t do the situation justice. My relationship with writing is perhaps a little bizarre. I’m not a prolific reader of books, though what little I do read is an immense help to my writing. On one level I’m dying to get a book published, but in reality, I keep writing because it has personal use, not because I feel I’m producing something worthy of anyone’s attention. That said, 25,000 page views means someone must be enjoying it!
I regret the fact I never learnt to write totally from my heart. I guess I’ve begun to pick it up, and actually manage to write about how I feel as much as what I think nowadays. Its just I’ve got a long way to go. People seem to associate “thinking” and “feeling” as two different personality types, but whilst it might be easier for some to do one and not the other, I’m yet to be convinced that, as humans, we shouldn’t be doing both, and contrasting our thinkings and feelings with each other.
And I should say that my Mum was a great parent on a lot of different levels, and actually, if anything, I blame her Dad for the obsession with productivity, and probably would blame one of his parents in turn, or perhaps just the Dutch in general (Granddad being Dutch, and from a fairly Calvinistic family at that). And I can hardly complain that much about having my writing stymied as a kid, given where I’ve gotten to now with the blogging and all. But I should never let myself forget that its something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.