Revealing and hiding ourselves

Writing and photography are ways of revealing ourselves. We’re longing to make ourselves known, but we’re also frightened to reveal too much. As if this would make any difference in the world.

Sunrise in Foret de Soignes (Belgium, 2020). Photo by the author.

Some things cannot be said directly because they would expose us too much. Some others cannot be said because we don’t know how to express them, although we know there’s something worth saying. So we play in the foggy marshes of fiction, metaphor and allegory. We use words and images that uncover a bit and hide a lot.

I would like to be able to take off all the masks and, for once, just say who I am. You know, like handing a business card to somebody: this is who I am. But it’s not that easy. No matter how open I’d try to be, I would probably end up telling a story about myself. I would still remain hidden beneath it.

But I’ll give it a try anyway.

I am a man in his 40s. An introvert. The father of a 10yo boy. A dancer. A photographer. An expat.

(You see, even some of these short sentences sound strange to me. Man in his 40s? I never think about me like this. I am a young adult frozen in time. Expat? It’s not how I label myself at all.)

I started taking photos about three years ago, as a way of recording (and then sharing) what was happening in my long walks in the wild.

I have written for a long time, but it was for an audience of one: myself. Journaling my life. I also wrote professionally, mostly academic papers. There, there was an international audience, but the writing was impersonal. The papers had some impact, but they could have been written by so many others with similar interests.

When I get tired of it all, I spend some time in the wild. It brings me back to life.

I try to be a good dad, but I often feel like a kid myself. A kid with insecurities and with a huge need of affection and reassurance.

I tend to judge myself harshly and put a lot of pressure on myself. I am often anxious.

I get more and more aware of time. Of its passing. I try to make it count. I mostly fail at this but I keep trying.

12 thoughts on “Revealing and hiding ourselves

  1. Well put. Are you aware of the poetry of Fernando Pessoa? The first of his 35 sonnets (1918) , resonates with this. Ends like this: . “ when we would utter to our thought our being/ We are our dreams of ourselves souls by gleams/ And each to each other dreams of others dreams . Unfortunately most of his work was written in Portuguese, and only a few poems in English.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Alessandra. I knew about Pessoa but frankly I don’t remember this sonnet. It’s beautiful. I found an English translation of all 35 :).


  2. Very interesting and truthful commentary you offer here and certainly much to consider. I appreciate the follow which has inevitably led me to your blog…I look forward to perusing further. Warm wishes to you —

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are good with words. And I guess many of us feel we can identify ourselves with what you are writing. We have things in common. You are a sensitive man. A good father. I know I have done my best with my children – but there will always be things I could have done better. I believe in raising your children to be sensible and to believe in themselves. Then they will maybe forgive you for the mistakes you think you have made. Trust yourself. I have forgiven my parents everything – because now I am a grown woman with children of my own – and I know most parents love their children and do their best to do the “right” thing. When you are young you complicate things. Make it simple. If you can.
    I am an introvert too. And time is passing. I still don’t know what to make of this life. I do love your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Leya! Very kind words. Guilt and forgiveness are things I sometimes struggle with, especially when it’s about forgiving myself. But I agree – we need to live with our choices and hope we will be understood and forgiven. Having a kid also helped me reconsider the relationship with my parents and my childhood.


      1. And we keep on struggling, don’t we. If it wasn’t for nature and the forest and flowers – I would not be able to live. I live near the forest and walk there every day. It is important for children to walk in nature and get to know it and love it… Nature is the greatest healer. It seems to me you feel the same. Thank you for being out there, talking to us!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “If it wasn’t for nature and the forest and flowers – I would not be able to live.” I couldn’t agree more. It is life-affirming and healing.


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