See Your Name in Lights

“See Your Name in Lights” the email header exclaimed. I had an inward shudder. For as much as I long to be heard, known and understood, I am also afraid of being heard, known and understood. The older I get, the more I know that I am not ready for intense scrutiny. I know the world to be both a harsh and a loving place. I know people to be intensely cruel and warmly loving. The further you get from the intimate friendships, the harsher the criticism. In an Internet world, we can be “known” by millions, yet many, many of those millions are overtly, voraciously, carnivorously cruel. It is a sport to them, and whoever dares to be seen or heard is the prey.

I do not know what it is in us that allows us to be so cruel to those we do not know. How have we come to ignore the humanity in others?

Have you ever driven a highway in a major city like L.A., Phoenix, Seattle, or Denver and been overwhelmed by the sudden awareness of the hundreds of thousands, even millions of people going about their lives with their own problems, their own hopes, their own fears, their own loves, hurts and disappointments? Has it ever taken your breath away to know that you will never know all those people? That you will never hear their stories?

I think of this and I wonder, how does a person put themselves out there, make themselves available for the slings and arrows of human cruelty, for vicious slander, or deliberate misunderstanding? I am not brave enough, nor do I seek the adulation. I don’t want the praise and adoration of those who do not truly know me.

I want my name on the covers of books, I want to finish my tales and have them available to those who might enjoy Timmy and the Tall Man, who might enjoy Mr. Tubby, or Dot Plott. I love these characters and I long to finish those, but I fear to finish those as well, for what if I do not do it well, what if I am inadequate to the task of telling their stories?

I clicked “delete” on that email. I don’t want my name in lights, thank you very much. My time for that longing has passed. It has been buried with many of the silly ideas of my youth.

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