Some people think there is dignity in being silent.
I am not one of those people.
I don’t think life is dignified. Or maybe, I just don’t think it should be.
I make mistakes. Sometimes they are small, inconsequential things. And sometimes they are big, with far reaching implications. Sometimes they are so big that I fear I will never live it down. That the mistake will stick to me, like a scar. And people won’t see me, they will just see the scar and everything it says about me.
But I don’t see it that way. The scar just means that I did something, that I took a risk and that I came out the other end. And hopefully I learned from that scar.
Too many people are silent. Because of decorum. Or niceties. Or fear. There is no dignity in that.
Change is hard. Really hard. Most people are not really capable of change. Because to be capable of change you have to actually allow yourself to be criticised. To be capable of hearing it. Without defending it. Or explaining it. Or giving a reason as to why it’s ok. And if you are silent, and dignified, well you can’t do any of those things.
Everything in the human spirit will fight criticism and fight change. It will tell you that those people are just jealous, or hateful, or wrong. That they don’t know the first thing about you. And the end result of that is that you don’t have to change, you don’t have to evolve. You can defend your position, and stay exactly the same, just as you are.
Silence is much the same. It allows you to stay as you are. And never even countenance the prospect that other people might have something to say. Something that is worthwhile. Something that maybe you should listen to. Or talk about. Or even, do something about.
And so I am not dignified.
I am not silent.
I make mistakes, sometimes huge ones.
When people call me names, I listen to the pain behind that.
I think about could I do it better or wiser or just plain kinder.
But I never let it paralyse me into being silent.
I don’t do silent.
I don’t do dignity.
I do real.
I do fallible.
I let all those criticisms in and I sit with them, sometimes for a long time, to see how they feel. And if they feel uncomfortable, then they are probably right. And I have to do something about that.
I love what Ernest Hemingway said, even if he was a drunk misogynist.
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.
There is no dignity in death. There is no dignity in life. There is no dignity in silence.
But there is something to be said for allowing yourself to be broken and then getting the fuck up and being exactly who you are. Being more brave than you could ever possibly feel and making the mistakes that are necessary to be brave, be risky and be exceptional.
Just as long as after all of that you evolve, you change and you get up and try again.