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22 October 2000

There are a couple of things I've been thinking about for a while. One is, What impression do people get of me from reading this journal?; the other is, Reading this journal, do people understand that I don't and can't say anything or everything I want to in here because to do so would betray the trust of the people I care about?

It's only recently that I've actually met some of the people who read this journal-- in fact, I didn't think anyone was reading it. Most of my friends and family are not fans of my writing. I think it's just that they don't understand writing or the need I have to put my experiences "on paper," to translate them into words. Writers are a strange breed, and a breed apart. As Annie Dillard put it in The Writing Life, "... you [the writer] may excite in your fellow man not curiosity but profound indifference. It is not my experience that society hates and fears the writer, or that society adulates the writer. Instead my experience is the common one, that society places the writer so far beyond the pale that society does not regard the writer at all." Alas, I believe she has hit the mark with that observation.

When I started this journal and told my friend Joyce what I intended, she said she admired my bravery. For her, to publicly write about personal feelings and experiences would be paralyzingly frightening. And, though she never said so, I think she worried that I might write about her in the journal. What I admired in Joyce was that she trusted me enough not to even bother to ask that I not write about her. That's a Friend.

Anyway, this journal has become part of my life, part of me. I don't advertise it, I don't usually mention it. But in this last year, I've been meeting a different class of people. People who are intelligent, understanding, caring, and compassionate. The kind of people one can share intimate and complex thoughts with. And I've told these people about my journal. And some of them read it. And some of them are surprised to find themselves mentioned in it. And, thank goodness, none of them have stopped speaking to me because of it.

The people I mention are the ones I love. (I do not use the word love lightly.) And with the people you love, you take care to be patient, kind, and gentle. Compassionate. I try. Patience is not my forté. And I've had to learn to tread gently-- to walk on rice paper. Sometimes I screw up, but I try.

No one can know all of me just from reading these journal entries. But you can know a part of me, and it's an honest one. I don't think I've pulled any punches here.

I hope you like me. But, if you don't, that's okay, too.

At the end of each t'ai chi class, we do QiGong exercises. I told you about them. On the last one, my teacher says, "... bring your hands together, gather the chi and bring it to your hearts... and remember to share your compassion with others throughout the week. Xiu xiu." An excellent benediction. (Xiu xiu, pronounced "shoo-shoo," is Chinese for "thank you for sharing.") I try.


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