gwen learns

A Closed Book?

Posted in Uncategorized by gwenlearns on August 9, 2012

It usually happens around a table.  Your friends have had their turn, they’ve shared some crazy story from their job or their latest Oprah-esque “aha” moment.  You’ve been mesmerized by their ability to compose a narrative on the fly, with all the right exaggerations and details and comedic timing.  But eventually, if the group is the right size and the occasion is long enough, you start to feel the pressure rising… your turn is coming up soon.

It’s not that you don’t have anything to say… your mind is full, you just aren’t sure where to start.  And once you do start, you aren’t the type to offer a lot of opinions or conclusions, and you feel like that’s what people want to hear.  But if you exist in this tension long enough without delivering, without speaking up, you start feeling like a closed book.

I started feeling this way about a year ago.  Not only was I in daily contact with two of the most open books I’ve ever met (my roommate and my boss), but I went on a few dates with yet another open book.  Talk about an intimidating table.  I would share a story, a piece of my world with him, and he wanted the whole universe… or at least that’s how it felt.    I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me.    I wondered if I had made my heart “impenetrable”, hiding it in the “casket of [my] selfishness”…

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.  – C.S. Lewis

I’m grateful to have a father who understands me.  He said I am a closed book and I need to own that.  I probably won’t share everything with any one person, but I do give pieces of it away to different people.  “Closed book” probably isn’t the right metaphor, but honestly, it is how I feel around extroverts (at least those who aren’t self-centered and expect me to reciprocate).

So where does someone like me feel most open?  Usually in places where there’s a lot of nonverbal activity and not all the pressure is on a conversation.  When I’m immersed in raw nature, on a hike or a walk on the beach. Playing cards or board games.  Listening to music.  Making music.  Driving and listening to music.  Dancing.  Cooking with friends.  All of these are valid conversations in my world.  All of these are my book wide open.  I’m counting on you to not miss out on that, both for my sake and for others like me. 🙂


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