Dear Mister.

Dear Mister,

If you saw this, you would probably know who you are.

There are so many things I wanted to tell you this weekend, but I didn’t.  If I told you those things, they would sound like excuses.  If I told you how I felt, that would sound like persuasion.  No, I have to wait.  I have to wait until you ask the right questions, and then I can only hope that those answers will come as easily as they would when I withheld them previously.

Mister, there are so many things I wanted to tell you yesterday when I finished that book.  I couldn’t say them, though.  At first, I couldn’t say them because you asked and I was still a few pages away from finishing and I couldn’t possibly have gathered my thoughts by then.  Then I finished it, and you asked, but there was someone in the room and I couldn’t say the truth with him there.  And when it was all good and I was ready to tell you how, wow, a silly book has…proved me really wrong… well, you never asked.  And if I made you ask, it would seem too cunning.  I just hoped you would ask.  I really wish you would ask.  But I’m afraid to answer if you do.  I’m afraid to be that vulnerable, to have been that wrong, to say kind words and have you judge them whether deservingly or not, but I’m especially afraid of how it will change the future.  My future with those who have suppressed this kind of thing before, as well as my future relations with you, mister.  Because I don’t want to come off as ill-intentioned.

Today, mister, I had so many feelings.  So much anger.  I was so frustrated, I needed comfort, and I was still piling on hurt from yesterday and feeling sorry for myself.  There were so many things i wanted you to do, to say, to ask, to whatever…but you didn’t.  And so I now feel foolish, because I acted cruelly and you would never be so cruel but you let me be cruel anyway.  I wanted so many things, but I got nothing.  You left without saying goodbye, not in person at least.  I was hoping all week to see you after work, but I won’t have that either.  I always think, what if what if what if something goes wrong, with my road trip, with your– no, I won’t even think that.  But what if we never got to speak again?

This week I have wanted to start so many conversations.  But I think, because I know they’re the conversations that you long to hear, I am avoiding them at all costs.  Because I know they are the conversations you want, and that I want because you want, but I wanted them before you wanted them because I wanted to have what I couldn’t otherwise have.  And they never happened because I could never deceive or lie like that.  But then suddenly everything changed, like I got punched in the face in such a way that it almost felt like a caress.  And now I want to scream to you, “I understand!  I understand!  I was so wrong…I still don’t get it all, and I’m still scared, but I love this too much to let it go…” but I know you probably would rejoice to hear that, yet have skepticism that I’m doing it because I’m trying to get what I want…which is not true…but I would rather never tell you than have you believe that.

I’d rather loose everything than seem false.

Am I foolish?  I don’t know.  I’m so confused.  You’re probably the only one who could make sense of this, yet I doubt you’ll ever read this. Ever.  And so maybe an opportunity will slip by because I can’t find the courage to do this.  Maybe that’s the test.  I’ll probably fail. I usually find a way to fail…

Mister, all I want is some solid time alone with you to work this out.  Without feeling deceptive.  Without feeling confused.  But I think we also have to meet somewhere in the middle…

Love,
K.F.

Embarrassment.

What a funny word. Did you know we haven’t had the word “embarrassment” in the English language for more than 300 years? It’s a relatively young word that actually comes from French meaning “to block” and which can be applied as “feeling awkward” of sorts…which is why the Spanish word for “pregnant” is quite the same. Yes, not only that but embarrassment can be a thing as well as a state with three different implications: confusion or disturbance of the mind, difficulty from wanting money to pay debts, and difficulty from a cardiac disease. Embarrassment encompasses a heck of a lot of spectra, much like my face when I’m red from an embarrassing situation.

I’m a firm believer that the greatest flaw in humanity is emotion. I think emotion too often overrules our natural responses and instincts. It causes us rage that goes beyond adrenaline and necessity and assists evil doings. It causes us to make hasty and improper decisions, then saddles us with regret shortly thereafter. Regret. That’s a pretty bad one, too. But regret lets us feel like we have room for improvement. Embarrassment on the other hand… sometimes I wonder if that’s the worst emotion ever. Grief and regret are things that hopeful pass or inspire, but embarrassment is like a memory branded in your mind and you can replay those moments so vividly that you inadvertently relive them.

But why do we get embarrassed? What causes people to feel embarrassment?

For me, it can be a slow process. It could be an article I spent a long time writing and poured my heart into only to have it torn apart grammatically and ridiculed for its silly content. That’s embarrassing; I was proud of that now mangled mess.

For me, it can also be a split second of failure. The first thought that comes to mind is when I try to run in lovely Shaker Heights and catch my toe on its splendidly uneven slate sidewalks. In front of traffic. Country bumpkin over here running, sorry. Don’t mind me. I don’t often wear shoes and sidewalks are kind of a new thing for me…

Yet why do I care? Who cares if I make a lot of mistakes in my work if no one gets hurt by it? Who cares if I think differently than other people or they just don’t get something I’m trying to say? Who. Cares. If. I. Trip. But really? So what? I’m running, I fall, I get back up, whoop-de-doo. Oh, you were driving your car when I fell? You were NOT exercising and I was? Who should be embarrassed? Alas, it’s still me. I’m embarrassed. But I don’t want to be embarrassed. And I can remember my moments of embarrassment better than any moments of success – or a dynamics equation.

Since embarrassment is such a personal and intrinsic feeling, I try to think about what spiritual leaders would be telling their followers. They always seem to have good advice on handling others and keeping your cool, so what would they tell me about embarrassment? If I had to guess, it’d be something like this: None of us are flawless. God/Allah/some other spiritual being has made us the way we are, all unique, and has provided us with these moments to remember our imperfections. It’s grounding, it’s humiliating. Humiliation is how you learn to be humble.

In fact, thinking of humility, shame, and moments that cause us to reflect as such reminds me of a sermon I visited this fall when my friend invited me to his church. To confirm my speculation that a spiritualist would tell me that my embarrassment is a humbling eye-opener, I have rediscovered this passage from that sermon:

“When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is He eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners?’ And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
-Mark 2:16-17

It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t, I think all holy scriptures are like additional Aesop’s Fables to life and I love to use them to reflect. This quote from the book of Mark, one of the many brought up in the sermon, makes me realize that I feel embarrassment because I am able to be humbled. I am not so righteous that I am perfect or in my own Nirvana; I have flaws that I need reminding of. And what’s better yet is those moments when I fall – whether figuratively or literally – are always those moments when I am overconfident. I am embarrassed because I realize maybe my writing isn’t as fantastic as I thought it was. I am embarrassed because, for a moment, I was caught up in thinking about myself too much that I tripped and realized how feeble I am.

In conclusion, I have decided that embarrassment is really just a blessing. Without it, we would be blinded by overconfidence and not realize how foolish we are being at times. Embarrassment does give us a chance for redemption, but only if we actively seek it.