Sunday, September 9, 2007

The courage to ...

I'm reviewing an excellent book today entitled "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes. I have to admit I never expected a book on writing to apply so much to life and particularly relationships. It's not so much about transcending a writer's fear (says the cover) as much as transcending life's fears. Well, if you didn’t guess it, it’s about tuning into the world of the emotions that begins with self-awareness. I found myself swimming in deep water hoping the sunrays would burn away the uncertainties of what looks like a bottomless ocean. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.

What Keyes seeks to convey are the following "key" concepts:(1) facts are less demanding to express than feelings, (2) literal truth demands less risk than emotional truth -- being yourself raises the stakes of rejection immeasurably, (3) before we can convey honest feelings to others, we need to be honest with ourselves, (4) we tend to skim or ignore emotional truth because of its unpleasantness, (5) the farther we stray from our deepest sources, the more sterile our interaction, (6) one of the greatest, yet most evasive violations in relationships is playing it safe, (7) courage and candor is greater than skill and craft.Life means allowing feelings to play a meaningful part.

I know that sounds obvious, but that contrasts radically with the mainstream educational methodology that typically separates feeling from thinking, disconnects emotion from thought, detaching the head from the hand, and the mind from the body. What this means is that we are experts at holding our feelings in check. What's more natural than saying “I can’t wait to see you.” if that’s how you feel? Instead without thinking we tend to send lukewarm signals to an already insipid world -- in the sense of distance and protectiveness. It's like sealing a new business venture with a dead-fish handshake. The author says that we don’t intentionally choose to keep others at arms' length, but rather do it because we have underlying fears of rejection or misunderstanding – assumptions we have failed to challenge at times.

© Troubled Reflector 2007

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