Thursday, January 13, 2005

on shyness.

Someone once told her (and not so long ago) that he didn’t see her as shy at all. But sensitive. And hesitant. Perhaps because she was unsure—as many seemingly shy folks tend to be—of what role to play at any particular moment.

Hmm, she thought. I’d never thought of it that way before. But he could be right. Or at least partway right. Part of the time.

Shyness was, after all, a big, sweeping, funny sort of word. The sort that included a whole hell of a lot of things. And nothing at all.

All of those moments—those countless moments—when she felt physically, viscerally, powerless to speak. When, if she forced words to come, they were stilted and stale and weird to her own ears—and certainly to those of others (at best). And, at worst, they were taken at surface value, though they did absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing at all to convey the soul of what she was thinking, feeling, being inside. And that very distance, that disconnect, between what was in here and what she forced to the surface made it all seem so futile—and such a physical struggle—to speak at all.

And it (shyness, that is) also covered those other moments. Those times when she hid from people and things and situations and herself on purpose—or at least on the edge of purpose (but certainly not entirely unconsciously, unknowingly). Because she just couldn’t deal with it all. The people. The consequences. Herself. Herself. Better—in those times—just to not be (at least not to anyone other than herself, who she figured she was pretty much stuck with).

And it (shyness, again) also covered the usual tedious, tired state of things. When she assumed that those around her saw so clearly, so transparently, the worst of whom she was and might be. And so being quiet and shy and withdrawn seemed entirely called for. Less exposure. Less dissonance. Less hurt. All around.

But, really, she thought, it was that first sort of shyness that happened most often. That was unavoidably, integrally tangled up with the self she imagined herself to be. Because words are ever and always signs, symbols—so impossibly, indescribably empty. And she just couldn’t get over that. Couldn’t deal with the shallowness of how it all sounded next to how intense, how real, it all felt.

And so she hesitated. Always teetering on the edge of things. And, in that way at least, she supposed he was right.


Anonymous صاحب الأشجار said...

I always find myself thinking: aren't we always talking about ourselves, and hoping what we say resontates in those we address? This one did, dana. Smiles.

May 17, 2005 at 4:54 AM  

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