Anais Nin, how did you do it? Put your thoughts on the page in such a way as to be, not only interesting, but spoken from the heart?
For instance, just these few simple lines tell us so much of your story:
“A summer evening. Henry and I are eating in a small restaurant wide open to the street. We are part of the street. The wine that runs down my throat runs down many other throats.”
Did you know others would be reading this or is the freedom that you felt through privacy what gave you the ability to remain open?
Like you, I wish to document my own life. But there is always that fear of exposure, the knowing that my words will be twisted and misinterpreted in such a way to break down my character in the end. I don’t want my concrete words written to be “the end”. I want them to continue on infinitely until, not only am I understood, but I cannot be pinned down, at the same time. Seemingly a contradiction of sorts, but not really. Not in my mind anyway. To be given our own true voice: unique, non-categorizable, strong, true, honest, forthcoming, sometimes, blunt, other times, subtle. At the same time, we are left with vulnerability, openness to criticism and hurt: some of the bad effects of writing straight from the heart. The ideas, thoughts, feelings that are most precious to us are what will kill us in the end potentially. So we board them back up again, put them away safely, so no one can access them. Sad though because no one will understand them either, or us for that matter. So we are lost. Our lives don’t matter.
Anais has not been lost though. She left us nine volumes of diaries and four journals spanning 60 years (1914-1974). We have all of her own words, thoughts, and impressions on paper to be read by millions of eyes through time. Was she afraid? Were you afraid, Anais? Did you regret it or was documenting who you are a part of who you are? We even get access to Henry Miller’s own words that he had written to her: just as raw, just as open. Their relationship must have been one of a rare sort of closeness for her to have access to thoughts like these:
“Why don’t I get down on my knees and just worship you? I can’t, I love you laughingly. Do you like that? And dear Anais, I am so many things. You are only the good things now-or at least you had me believe so. I want you for a whole day at least. I want to go places with you. Possess you. You don’t know how insatiable I am. How dastardly. And how selfish!”
I struggle. Every time I take pen and paper, I wonder what to actually write down. Which of my million and one thoughts should I capture? It’s like trying to capture one raindrop. Are all raindrops a valid sampling of the sky?
Here is my first raindrop then:
What if we had no set character to ourselves, just moments in time? What if we were all made anew with each moment, saying goodbye to that person we were the day before? Farewell to the old and on with the new? Make a fresh start? Reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day. He perfected himself in the end and each day he learned his lesson in order to move on to the next with more knowledge in his storehouse of experience. If only. If only we were given chances like this. But, aren’t we?
Oh god this seems to be getting long. I’m not saying very much, and I am sure it is boring. But then again if you are still with me reading this, you must not feel like I am wasting your time. Unless of course you have a gun to your head. There is always that possibility.
Next raindrop: Why do I potentially wish to entertain even with the words in my own diary? Why do I always request an audience? Can’t I write purely without a receiver? Can’t I let these words go out into oblivion for no one to see? Like a letter in a bottle sent floating out to sea, only to return eventually to that same lonely shore from which it left.
Yet another raindrop: I hate polished writing. It seems false to me, less earthy, less raw and from the core. It is as if we are editing away our essence, who we are right at that moment. I want to keep every first draft ever written in a gigantic volume as proof that people are real and what we see every day in our lives and experience is the truth, not a digested published form of the truth. I want to see beautifully flawed individuals, not perfect versions of themselves.
Human. What a word. Still an animal, yet different. The word “human” is different than the term “humanism”. Humanism is the idealized form of humanity: humanity reaching its highest potential. “Human” accepts flaws and imperfections. As humans, let’s keep our writing going, let’s not be stifled or edited out. Let’s keep ourselves intact. Let’s keep our voices free and our minds open.
Perhaps the final raindrop: I feel perpetually misunderstood. But taking a step backwards, it is perhaps only due to my wish to be understood by everyone and anyone at all. In reality I know this will never happen. Life is not designed this way. I still wish for it though in my idealistic fantasies. Problem is I try to meld reality with fantasy. Naive? Maybe. Forever disappointed? Definitely. How about being more selective? Yes.
I always speak in questions, never in answers. I have no answers! Only feelings and how I respond to reality, always asking more questions, and I how I respond to how others respond to me. Confused yet? I am sure. So am I. This is how I navigate my life daily. I ask the questions i encounter and continue on. No wonder I usually feel disappointed and a failure by the end of the day. I just cannot win with these kinds of expectations.
I cannot end this journal entry on this note. Such a negative feeling to leave on. To leave whom? I guess me. I suppose I should ultimately be kind to myself above all else so here’s to the last raindrop:
Last raindrop, The One to Sum All: Life is struggle. We all know that. Even speaking about life is a struggle. We wake up everyday knowing that it won’t be easy. Yet we still wake up, most of us anyway, to the sun, greeting it with open arms and endless hope. The day is what we live for. To have the ability to open our eyes once again, like we have been doing every morning that we can remember, and have the privilege to breathe, eat, move think, drink, feel, touch, listen, truly see, merge, and love with abandonment. We all have this in common-whether we like it or not. Those who don’t? Well, they don’t get to see that sunrise. But perhaps they simply don’t wish to.
Anything is possible.