Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fault Lines...

As I blogged yesterday, I have been drawn into the world of fiction as a result of my workplace's latest book club choice, Fault Lines, by Nancy Huston. I was moved by this book. Regardless of whether you've read the book or not, I think the following ponderings are worth considering.

Some time ago, I blogged about secrets. We all have them. But what happens when a family secret goes back for generations? How does that affect things? Huston's book considers this as a theme. She tells the story of one family through the eyes of four six-year-old children across four generations. It is an interesting perspective since it is often around this age that children become consciously aware of their inner story, where they begin to have conscious memory construction. But what I loved about this book was how she weaves these children's stories across history, across times of war and across a series of family relationships. It really exemplifies how families evolve, or don't. And how worlds evolve through families, or don't.

But back to secrets. As I asked in my earlier blog on the subject: Is keeping a secret ever a good thing? Are there secrets we can hold in our hearts that do not inevitably destroy us?

Family secrets are common. We all have outstanding gaps in our histories that haunt us. Things we do not know about where we came from, about the generations that came before us. How does these secrets affect us? What is the implication of things left unsaid?

And I wonder as well about the lessons we could glean from these stories of our past. It feels sometimes as if we are re-inventing the wheel with each generation because the wisdom of previous generations gets lost in the shuffle of time. I wish my parents had shared stories from their childhoods with me--their triumphs, their defeats, their hopes, their dreams, their strengths, their foibles. I think there is much for me to learn from them. Without these roots, I sometimes feel as if I am floundering in a sea of trial and error. I think stories have power in them. I believe it is why our myths and religions have been created. They give us a context within which to make sense of our human experience. The stories teach us lessons, give us metaphors for making our way so we do not have to start afresh each time out. This is the value of story. But as long as we are keeping secrets, I believe that story is marred.

Even the histories of our countries, the histories of our world, are filled with secrets. Transparency has never been a strong human attribute. When it comes down to it, on some level, I think we're all afraid of being found out. It is our secrets that have allowed us to wield power over others, both as nations and as individuals. As I asked before: Who would be left standing when nothing else remains? If all was told, and there were no secrets left to hide behind, who are you really?

I often wonder what a transparent world would look like, not that we even have to share everything with everyone, but that we no longer are afraid to share everything with everyone. A world where it's no longer a big deal to be "found out". Everyone has secrets. Everyone has skeletons in their closets. Everyone has done or said things they wish they hadn't done or said. I long for the day when we will no longer cower from our own darkness. Then maybe, just maybe, we will begin to see the light.

tall penguin

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