Better Left Un-Named

There are things about ourselves that are better unsaid, unnamed. Like those little perfidies we would rather not look at too closely. Perhaps they are weaknesses, cracks in the armor, which may heal on their own, or holes in our heart through which we can only smile, if a bit wistfully or forlornly.

And we also look the other way when we see those little chinks in someone else. We all have our crosses to bear, our blind spots, our strange phobias, our bitterness, our pettiness. To focus on the faults, either in ourselves or in others, brings about a kind of dramatic exaggeration of the flaw, a microscope peering too closely and then broadcast over a huge live screen. It’s too much to bear, to admit. We want to play out those flaws, and let them dry and shake their way slowly out of the fabric, let them wear off with under-use, dissipate with neglect, fade with inattention.

We prefer to emphasize the strengths, and let the weakness be over shadowed. It’s better that way.

Those of us perfectionists who sometimes wish to air all dirty laundry, to confess all our sins, to cry our faults on the mountain top, we are shunned, or smiled at with a certain pity, a soft, sad eyed compassion, just enough attention to calm our desperation, but not enough to encourage too much public absolution. Or we are viewed with scorn, branded as weak. And we fear being marked by our blind-heartedness, our shamefulness, which, although no more than anyone else’s, we simple choose to show, unwittingly, almost sacrificially.

To be one of those underlings who are blind to the common superficialities of accepted behavior, we struggle to reason toward the patterns others consider common sense. We see the icebergs looming under every smile. Yet others seem not to see, or not to care. Somehow we try to create, to fabricate the wisdom in this myopia, this blindness. We struggle to laugh with everyone, to blend in, to be part of the gang, to belong. We all want to belong. But belonging is so intangible, so unquantifiable.

So we leave our icebergs unnamed, unconquered, hoping they melt on their own accord, in their own time. We leave the dangling disconnections, the unanswered guilt, the petty pain, the looming emptiness, the caustic looks, the lacking, the fear, the discomfort, we leave those un-named, un-marked, and we walk on, we smile, and keep smiling, hoping everyone else knows what they’re doing, hoping someone else might see the uneasiness in our eyes, and hold our glance a little longer, to tell us we are not alone.

You are not alone.

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10 thoughts on “Better Left Un-Named

  1. There is no road that feels so alone as the one that leads to a deep thinking soul. Most people find such a road too unknown, too filled with things they might not want to see. But to travel that road means to feel things more, more fully. The word alive expands exponentially. Yes, there is pain for those who climb the mountain, but only they get to see the view.

    Of course, you and the unnamed are not alone. I am with you.

  2. It’s funny. As I wrote this, I realized there are many like me, and I even knew who they are. But I kept this point of view generic, using we, to mean anyone who might feel this way, even those I’ve never met. And by writing it so, I felt the quiet spirit of everyone suddenly being included. No one is exempt from the unnamed spirit, they just don’t acknowledge it, don’t embrace it. Those who embrace it, who light their torches by this chaotic spirit, have the responsibility to share it.

  3. It’s a lot to harness, and many who are gifted don’t have the mentors to teach them the ropes. I often lament not having any system to guide me. I’ve had to forge my own way, cut the path through the wilderness. And I’m just now beginning to really know, to have a palpable sense of my gifts. Modesty and ignorance stunted me too long.

  4. Garnet:

    Wonderfully introspective, I get a real sense of the “loneliness” we experience when we feel isolated not just from others but from ourselves as well.

    Your last paragraph is especially poignant and gripping. In spite of my “unnamed icebergs,” there’s the promise of hope that someone will recognize the “uneasiness in my eyes.” It is that simple recognition that even though we may be lonely, or even isolated, we are never really alone as long as we have that simple yearning to feel connected. And I really like how this paragraph allows me to experience this simple recognition on my own. Because of that, I have to question whether your last sentence “You’re not alone,” is necessary. Although I understand the effect you are trying to create, I think it detracts from the experience you have already created for the reader.

    When we write, it is good to keep in mind that the reader wants to think and feel with the speaker of the poem or essay, or in the case of a story or novel, the main character. They want to become that person as they read. The best way to achive and substain that relationship is to write from a single point of view. For the speaker to step out of the writing and tell the reader what already has been established might create an unintended effect other than what was desired.


  5. Nicely put, Scot – it’s that last line thing again. Hard for us to trust that we don’t need to punch-line our piece or hammer the point home…to trust instead that we’ve said what we meant to and created an experience for the reader via the language itself.

    Catching up on all my beloved blogs today, and found this, have you seen it!? This is why I stay with dear Waiter – for the times he does this…

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