Alternate Post Title: Actually I Lied, Since There IS No Alternate Post Title and I AM Embarrassed
You know, I’ve been embarrassed by a lot of things in my life -- with the fact that I still have trouble spelling “embarrassed” without the crutch of Microsoft Word well among them. But I guess as of late, I’ve got a new reason to tuck into a ball and hide under the bed. Now watch as I blab about it to the world .
So. Anyone who’s taken a look at this blog over the past week or so may know that, unfortunately, my dad passed away. I may sound flippant now, but a loss that big hurts, and it’s probably going to hurt for a while yet. I’m not so crippled by it that I can’t function anymore, though -- hence why I’m putting out this short (ahahahaha) post. And/or to illustrate a point.
See, I was asked beforehand if I wanted to speak at the memorial service -- which I guess is like a “funeral lite”, but the affect is more or less the same, give or take a level of rigidity. Whatever the case, I said no, I wouldn’t go up and speak. I’m a writer, and I do my work in the depths of my dusty keep. Well, granted I actually do all right when it comes to public speaking -- the greatest paradox of our age, to be sure -- but I didn’t want to go up. I knew there were people who needed to go up and speak a LOT more than I did. More importantly, I wanted the words spoken up there to be the right words. So I gave up what could charitably be called a spot.
But then I remembered something. See, back in 2013 I also had the offer to speak at a funeral (my grandma’s funeral, if you’ve been following the canon of this blog). But I didn’t go up for pretty much the same reasons. Right words needed, others had to have that spot -- and that’s doubly the case, given the massive procession -- et cetera, et cetera. And both times, there was a secret concern: I wasn’t sure if I could hold it together and deliver a good “speech”. I didn’t want to add more tears to the event, so I figured “Oh man, I’d better back down.”
That said? Well, on some level I kind of regret that I didn’t go up and speak. The irony of the situation is that I actually did write a speech beforehand (for the 2013 event), but with it being roughly the fourth funeral I’d ever been to in my life, I didn’t have the experience needed to come up with anything good. So I backed down. I backed down because I didn’t even want to give it a shot -- because I was a coward who was content with hiding in the shadows. And I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.
Here’s the issue, though: I didn’t write a speech for this latest service. The idea of it didn’t even pop up until the night before, and I said no almost immediately. But when I sat down in the pew and the offer was made again -- for anyone to come up and say whatever, on the spot, at any time for roughly the next hour -- I couldn’t help myself. I went up and spoke, because…I don’t know. To honor my dad’s legacy? To prove his strength, and mine, to the world? To impart his lessons on his friends, family, and coworkers?
I guess it doesn’t matter now. What’s important is that I went up there and spoke. And as it turns out, I’m no emblem of stoicism and hardiness. I only made it halfway through my speech -- if that -- before I broke down into tears. I finished, eventually, but not without a relative to hold me and the words practically sputtering out of my throat and into the chapel (which makes me wonder if everyone there actually heard me, given that the people spoke without a mic). Not surprisingly, everyone made sure to comfort me as the service let them pay their last respects/consul the family.
Let’s be real here. I’m not so hung-up about crying, as inelegant as it might have been. First of all, I was at a funeral, and my dad’s funeral at that; decorum takes a holiday when you’ve got a knife in your heart. Second of all, it’s okay to cry -- whether you’re a man, woman, child, elder, or space alien. Showing emotions is fine, if not welcome; yeah, they can be unpleasant at times, but it can sure be cathartic to get that stuff out there. I know I feel better than I did before.
So what’s the problem, then? Why am I so embarrassed? It’s simple.
I’m not embarrassed because I cried at a funeral, and everyone saw me do it. I’m embarrassed because my speech was awful.
I’m not even remotely satisfied with anything I said (besides parroting my dad’s sage advice of “keep the faith”). I tried to get a few laughs, but didn’t. I tried to setup a stronger connection between the freeform paragraphs, but didn’t. I couldn’t even fully expound upon whatever ideas I had in mind, which I actually managed to make materialize beforehand…and then promptly failed to string them into anything remotely meaningful. And sure, I was on the spot -- which goes to show that I should’ve prepared a speech beforehand -- but I’ve been in on-the-spot situations before, and made the most of it. (One day I’ll have to tell the story of “my greatest triumph” at camp.)
But I screwed up the speech. I absolutely screwed up, and it’s to a point where I want to reject the praise I got from everyone who approached me. My words weren’t beautiful, my intent wasn’t clear, my theming was MIA, and I suspect the only reason I managed to have an impact on people was because I cried and it was a funeral. The circumstances got to them, not me. They were emotionally manipulated into thinking I’d given them some semblance of enlightenment. Or, alternatively, they knew that I screwed up, and only said “You did great” as a means to comfort me…or keep me from getting any more rattled.
I am not happy about that speech. And I never will be.
So why do I feel like smiling?
I don’t know. I guess it’s because on some level, in some way, I did more than say goodbye to my dad in the clumsiest way possible -- which to be fair is worth a pat on the back. But I think the big thing for me is that I stared my weakness in the face. Not just the whole “Oh, I’ll stay in the shadows because I’m not good enough” thing; it felt like I learned firsthand what I needed to do. Like I found out how to become stronger. Become better.
I’ve been thinking about my dad, but I’ve been thinking about myself as well -- about how to become a braver, stronger, better man…or at the very least, someone who truly deserves to be called a writing hero. And now? Now, I think I get it. I think I see a new path I can take. I’ve seen my weaknesses, and seen the darkness, and seen what it’s like to feel a pain so fierce you don’t even want to wake up. Now I know I can make a new way.
I want to keep getting stronger. I want to keep going, period. And maybe someday -- a day that I hope is decades away, at least -- I’ll be ready to speak at the next funeral.
So, cards on the table. What does that mean for this blog? In simplest terms, it’s coming back. I’ll say upfront that it’s going to take a bit of time before it’s in full swing, because there’s stuff I want to do and I’d like to add in some important changes in the near future. Like I’ve said before, Cross-Up is going to be the center of almost everything I do from here on. It’s the platform, and everything I can get to orbit it will orbit it. You’ll get your content, no question.
Again, it’s going to take a bit of time. I might slow down the pace of posts to one a week just to make sure everything goes as planned. I might now. Haven’t decided yet. But there are three things worth noting. First: it’s likely you’ll see another short (AHAHAHAHAHA) post later this week -- not guaranteed, but likely. Second: I’ll be all right, so you don’t have to spend your time in the comments going “Oh, are you okay? I’m so sorry!” I’m no brick wall, but I’m not a daffodil, either; frankly, I wouldn’t mind listening to what you guys have been up to. So if you’re up for it, talk to me about…oh, I don’t know. Tell me what you’d do if you were suddenly super-rich. (I once said I’d buy Robosaurus, but these days I’m not so sure. Seems a bit impractical.)
And third? Well, I just thought I’d let you guys know that I’ll keep pressing on, here and beyond.
No need for regrets. My future starts now.
…Also, I lied again. There are four things worth noting -- because I was pretty much forced to watch THIS the other day.
Yeah. I guess I have to talk about this one. The talk of its mediocrity rings true…but not for the reasons you think.
There. And that’s how you handle ominous  foreshadowing.