So it occurred to me recently that this blog is near absent the sarcasm/cynicism which I am fairly well known for. I would be lying if I said this was intentional. I would also be lying if I said it did not bring quite the smile to my face — something I most certainly am not known for (well more of i used to not be known for, as smiling comes far easier these days and is no longer a reflex, and far more just a natural state).
As pretty much all my long-term friends can demonstrate, I am quite drawn to those with an urbane wit and who can dish out the sarcastic barb like a Pez dispenser upchucks rectangular, chalky, not very good candy. And, well I can sling it right back in spades. So much so, many people began to think, or perhaps always thought, I was incapable of being sincere. I would say something, in total earnestness, and people would have no idea if I was telling the truth. I would discuss why I loved something and people would think I was lying, rolling my eyes at them, snickering at their naivety, etc. I have long heard “I have no idea if you are telling the truth or taking the piss,” or some such response.
Once upon a time, this was very funny, and lead to many contorted looking faces and much eye rolling from me. But as it built to people always being sure I was being my typical ass self and never taking what I said seriously, well I realized I had a problem. One night, a few years ago, out with friends, I even remember having a long conversation about “what if my sarcasm is sincere?” Much to my dismay at the time, they rightly were having none of it.
It was about then when I realized I really was unsure how not to be my snide, snarky, sarcastic self. I also equally realized it was a total coping mechanism. It was far easier to be the detached cynic with nothing to root for/on than admit what I wanted was hard, difficult, or impossible. It made me sad. But, I did not set out to change this. It was the foundation for the self I created, and I know that by uprooting it, I would change myself irrevocably. And at that time, I was not ready for such an undertaking. I was not ready to have to change the sense of who I was.
Apparently, that has changed, at least in my writing.
In fact, this newly found sincerity is not entirely new, it was there when I wrote only for myself (well most of the time). When I did not color my words to disguise my failings, as I did not worry if others saw them, because they would not. And in fact it would sometimes come out to the world too (that 25 things list I did on FB years ago for instance), but never in such a concentrated manner that has occurred here..
So I wonder, what is it about the written word that allows me to embrace sincerity when for the most part my spoken word is still laced with, if not tethered to, cynicism and sarcasm? Is it that I do not have to look in another’s eyes while I am communicating? Is it that I know sarcasm’s power is fleeting and is only entertaining as it splashes over things abruptly? Is it simply the difficulty of conveying sarcasm though writing? Is it something far more complex or even just something outside of my knowledge base?
Recently, a newer friend of mine was looking through the pictures on my FB and told me later that she saw in many of my old pictures a person she would not much like to meet. It took me by surprise, as I thought, “who would not want to meet me?”, only to think of how I used to behave and how quick I was to rant and dismiss. Hell… I thought, I would not much like to meet that person either. And this got me thinking… sarcasm and cynicism as a default option is nothing more than toxicity. And not the kind with a quick half-life, as my friend could see it reverberating, radiating, from the past in my pictures.
And while I have been working on disentangling myself from the the lure of this default response for sometime, this prompted me to do so with even more urgency. I also realized that since I can do so here, I should have no difficulty doing so elsewhere, as in I know how to be sincere as the default option, so I do not need to learn a new skill. I just need to make it reality.
And that is what I am committed to doing. Making the sincerity from the blog, from most of my writing in general, leap from page/screen/etc into the real world. I will not say I am smothering the sarcasm/cynicism in me entirely, it will just live on in quick bursts, at proper times, and never strangle me with its toxicity again.
I will not erase these responses from my person entirely, there are still times that they will come out, but they will be rarer and brief. To do this, I will need to contemplate what and how I respond to things more slowly. This picture pretty much sums up what ideally will be how I respond to people:
If these are not at the root of sincerity….
And don’t you feel good when other’s communicate to you in this way?
I know I do – good and respected. So how can I justify not respecting others the way I want to be? Simply put, I can not.
Now be honest people, who finds my embarking on this journey humorous and/or incredulous? Or something else of equal disbelief? Don’t worry, at times, I too find it strange and baffling, but also equal, if not more so, parts empowering.
But really other than a few short term laughs what positive results has this ever so detached sense of self brought me? Is it really in my best interest to veil up my sincere self? Is it in the world’s best interest for me to do this? Is not the lack of connection to others one of the major psychological issues of our age?
In my desire to keep evolving into the person I want to be, this is not an optional step. This is a necessary step. So this is where I ask for you to hold me true to this, so if you ever hear/see me slipping, let me know. Help keep me honest.