We are afraid, so afraid.
“Don’t let your guard down,” they say. “Your heart is on your sleeve again,” they say.
As writers for human beings, we write about human beings. That is as simple as I could make it to be without losing the implication of a severe complexity: the storyteller doesn’t know any better than the story.
But we write still, don’t we? We write what we understand, what we can’t wrap our heads around, and everything else in between.
We are afraid. Maybe more than afraid, we are frustrated.
The world is full of confused human beings looking for someone who feels what they feel and experiences the same universal themes of love, friendship, loss, and war.
As storytellers, we carry a great burden. People become vulnerable to us, and we become vulnerable to people. It is never a one-way street. Each memory they recall in front of us becomes our own.
When our subjects open themselves to us, they open wounds, but they also open possibilities. It is a writer’s task to see not just what is being told, but also what is not spoken. Sometimes the latter says more.
We are afraid, frustrated, and affected.
If you ever ask me the number of times I’ve fallen in love, I’ll tell you that I have lost count.
I have fallen in love with the old woman I talked to on an impulsive trip to the slums.
I have fallen in love with the boy who wandered away from the religion he knew into another form of belief he didn’t quite understand.
I have fallen in love with a waiter who couldn’t get his family to eat in fancy restaurants like the one he services everyday.
I have fallen in love with a film maker who wanted to dedicate every film to a father that was never there.
I have fallen in love with a business journalist who never showed me the personal side of him.
These are all real people I’ve written profiles on, and I have fallen in love with each one of them. Their stories helped me piece my own, and allowed me to get a fuller sense of what love is. They all have captured my heart, for a brief period of time, and for the rawness and honesty that I was so undeserving to receive.
When I told their story, I knew I was giving myself away too.