Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Writer's Liar

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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“When I write, I’m not deaf.”

Was I lying or is it my belief, my fiction, my little white lie, which makes this true in a sense? For odd reasons this presented a conundrum for me recently; on some level I felt like the liar (the writer) hiding behind her words. Writing doesn’t remove my disability; to a few readers, my words might be more descriptive in place of hearing. Others believe it’s not an absolute priority or needed to write. Both hold an element of truth. Each person has their own truth they take away from a single blanket statement, in this case my bold altruism of believing I’m not deaf (at least when I write).

Truth is such a relative controversy when it comes to writers; we ply our trade by being imaginative, conniving liars. You shouldn’t trust us writers, we can spin a tale like no other and not only will you believe us, you’ll be asking for more.

Am I deaf?

Proficient liars one and all, even the non-fiction sort. Confused? Whenever someone tells a story or recalls events no matter how true or fact based, they may be - they’re still telling ‘their’ version of the truth. So are we all liars – manipulative culprits you really shouldn’t trust or believe a single word uttered out of our mouths? What if I told you, underneath every lie, a thread of truth can be found. Aha, let’s close that vault full of philosophical arguments before we get off track.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

I’m not deaf when I write…change the order of words and the truth outs itself. Every single writer I know writes truth into their fiction; we create the characters and give them personalities based on our own observations, beliefs, and imaginations. We thread the story with emotional density and experiences from our lives. Life lessons are the creation behind the storyteller’s voice. Readers and listeners take those stories and interpret them into something they recognize, until they are no longer the writer’s truths, but their own.

For example, take the woman running the cash register, who yanked her hand away from mine instead of giving me my change, simply because I said I was deaf. In her reality, deafness is contagious. You can bet at some point she’s going to show up in a book somewhere. Better yet the neighbors who become watchdogs duplicating my actions, hairstyle, and clothing like automatons with no personality of their own (aliens maybe) – once again my truth, which becomes your fiction.

Each of us, caught in our worst lie will give away the truth in some form. Writers do it better, we’re sales clerks selling the biggest lie of all and asking you to extend believability to what you’re reading. Who knows…you might find me hidden somewhere in the story. I hope not, if I’m any good at all, you bought the lie hook, line, and sinker.

In the end…I’ll always be deaf. Writing gave me the tools to hear through noise, sound, and music descriptions. A match made in heaven wouldn’t you agree? On this playing field, I hear just fine. Sometimes our biggest lie, is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Picture from here.

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78 comments:

  1. This is deep and gives me more thoughts than I can share ... as I'd be writing something longer than the post itself!! I have to number my thoughts:

    1. For example, take the woman running the cash register, who yanked her hand away from mine instead of giving me my change, simply because I said I was deaf. In her reality, deafness is contagious.

    I have zero idea about this, but maybe she went home that night thinking about what an idiotic thing it was she did and feeling bad for it. It might have been an inexperienced visceral reaction … but then again maybe she just didn't care -- some people are so unreflective of their own actions. But we can at least hope she learned something about herself today.

    2. You don't write like a deaf person. You write like Indigo. That's not easy for anyone. (Just to be clear, this is a complement -- your writing is excellent and as unique as you are.)

    3. Just some off the wall quotes:

    "Science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths."
    Karl Popper

    For Popper experience never *gives* us the truth, we just keep testing our ideas against it -- and we never know for sure. We never know if a black swan might come along revealing to us that "all swans are white" is actually wrong. But we might just take a stab at the truth and get it without any experience at all …

    Then there is this great quote ...

    “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” -- Stephen King

    Thank you for your writings!!

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    1. Thank you so much for the compliment Matt. Perfect.

      As for the woman running the cash register, I wish I could say she's unique in her response. Unfortunately, I come across a lot of resistance to me being deaf. I've had people carry on a conversation with me without a clue, until I had to ask them to repeat something and mentioned I was deaf. You would be surprised how quickly the conversation ends.

      At the end of the day it's on them. I have to live with the silence, they don't. I'm comfortable in my world, I wish they could say the same theirs.

      Mark Twain said "It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense." (Hugs)Indigo

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  2. You don't write like a deaf person. You write like Indigo. That's not easy for anyone.

    I should have put "deaf person" in quotes. It's kind of a derogatory expression, I think. And I think it's a manner of othering other people. This what people do when they take a single trait and some how magnify until it defines the essence of the person.

    I've lived in Japan for over a decade and a half and I've dealt with this a lot. I remember asking a store clerk a question in easy to understand Japanese. They clearly couldn't speak English, but kept trying to respond to me in broken English. I remember once opening a door for an elderly women -- and it really terrified her -- and she stood there trying to mouth something and finally it was "thank you" in really bad English. I'd have felt a lot a better if she'd just said *arigato" and hadn't thought twice about what I'd done.

    This is just the small stuff -- there's so much more stuff here I could relate.

    So, in a sense, while obviously if you can't hear that's an issue you have to deal with, but if a person sees this as being some how essential to who you are, they couldn't be more wrong. It's very similar to the issues people have over "race" and so on.

    It doesn't define us.

    And my point is that when you write, it doesn't define your writing. It's just there as an issue you deal with. In that sense you rise above it. As a writer, this is something we all have to aspire to do, to rise above issues like this to get at what is meaningful.

    That's what I was trying to say.

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    1. I agree it's not a derogatory expression and no it does not define me. In the same breath my deafness is a part of me. Should I stand out from the crowd for that reason, absolutely not. As you said there is so much more beneath the surface of who I am.

      A friend once asked out of curiosity, if I felt like I belonged in the deaf community or still felt closer to the hearing. My answer was quite frankly neither. I'm an individual with my own personality and a world unto myself. It's a matter of being comfortable in your own skin whether you have a disability or not. No one should ever feel they have to belong to something to be of worth.

      Like you said these are not issues that deal chiefly with deafness. No one thing should ever define who we are whether it's race, gender, or sexual orientation.

      Thanks for your input Matt, I totally got what you were trying to say. It's a small world and we all have our place.(Hugs)Indigo

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    2. I don't think I could be given a higher compliment, than "You write like Indigo." (Hugs)

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  3. Spot on Indigo. I know what you mean for I too am a happy liar and glad of it when there is no bit of me on the hook, the line or the sinker.

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  4. Brilliant post, Indigo. You hear the world better than most people I know.

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    1. Thanks Linda, wonderful compliment. We all hear more when we listen with our hearts. (Hugs)Indigo

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  5. I'm always quite speechless after your posts. Hence why you don't see me commenting very often. You have such an amazing way with words that I feel like I am being cradled right beside your heart. And THAT's the truth :)

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    1. It's my turn to be speechless. Your comment described everything I hope for as a writer and a human being. Thank you! (Hugs)Indigo

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  6. I love Matt's comment saying that you write like Indigo. You and your words really shine, my friend. I feel peace and strength every time I read something of yours.

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    1. Thanks Mercedes, warms my heart to read that. (Hugs)Indigo

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  7. That is a good point. To be honest, I'm always amazed at your words. I could believe anything you said. ;) You're just amazing. <3

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, you're pretty amazing yourself! (Hugs)Indigo

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  8. "Whenever someone tells a story or recalls events no matter how true or fact based, they may be - they’re still telling ‘their’ version of the truth."

    This may be a little off topic, but the above comment made me think of something that I often ponder. I read this or saw this question somewhere (can't remember where): If everyone who was present for a past event *completely* forgets about said event, did it really ever occur?

    Most people are quick to say "yes," but when you really think about it, it can drive you a bit batty. What if time is linear? If that's the case, then past event only truly exist in documentation and memory.

    If there is NO documentation of the evvent, and everyone forgets it had occurred...did it really occur?

    Or to go along with your topic a little better, the only person who remembers the event, remembers it differently than it truly happened. Did they just change the past?

    ;-)

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    1. Honestly, I think history evolves with the times.

      Native Americans used to couch lessons and history in stories that were passed down from one generation to another. Each generation would take from the stories those elements that applied to them. Did they change their history? I think there were a few constants that remained. The same lessons with a different twist.
      (Hugs)Indigo

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  9. Aren't we all different then who we are, when we are writing?

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    1. To a certain degree I think we are and at the same time it's still our personality and perceptions beneath the words. Thanks for stopping by Liza! (Hugs)Indigo

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  10. Hi Indigo,

    Your words fill the page, they are larger and louder than life. They represent you beautifully. Writers are witnesses of life, sometimes we turn truth into lies and lies into truth, but I believe that we always stretch imagination, shape reality and make an impact.

    You are a talented wordsmith and your words come in loud and clear, echoing in the soul.

    Hugz my friend.

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    1. Thank you Alexys!

      "Writers are witnesses of life" ~ Beautiful description of writing. (Hugs)Indigo

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  11. I cannot write like Indigo. Being not a writer (a musician) I cannot even write like Steve E.

    BUT...I know what I like, and I like what i read, and I say to myself, "THAT'S FOR ME..."--your writings!

    If you did not tell us...nobody would realize you cannot hear sound. But can you 'feel' it? By your prose, it has become obvious you 'feel' everything else, so much more deeply that most Peeps. Thank you for sharing those feeling--and those truths--with us, Dear Indigo.
    PEACE!

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    1. Thanks Steve, it's always a pleasure to have you visit. (Hugs)Indigo

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  12. Yes, we writers lie. The trick is to lie well.

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  13. Love this! Well, except for the idiots like that cashier *sigh* But at least she'll serves some useful purpose later on in a story...

    We really are unique individuals and we project our individual truths into our words and our stories. That's what makes it all so much fun!

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    1. Thanks Jemi,

      I think my favorite part of writing is applying my own perceptions to a story, and maybe changing an outcome or two. (Hugs)Indigo

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  14. That cashier is an idiot. I have many close friends who are deaf. I learned ASL just to be able to communicate. I'm glad you found writing.

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    1. Yes, she was. I'm glad I found writing too and think it's terrific you learned to sign so you could communicate with your deaf friends. You're an amazing friend. (Hugs)Indigo

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  15. At the end of her life my mother was blind & barely able to walk, yet she ways of "seeing" & other ways of "traveling."
    Senses can cross each other's boundaries. You can taste a smell in the air, or feel a sound come across your skin.

    And each time you think of a past experience your brain alters it a fraction. Think of it 10 times, then the 11th has those 10 altered bits included. Truth can have dual desires: 1) Know me. 2) Don't know me so well that I scare you off. Self-preservation & instinct can jack truth up or bring it down a peg or 2 for anyone, even the most authentic person. ~Mary

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    1. I agree senses do cross each other's boundaries. I can't tell you how many times a visual brings the memory of sound with it. Truth does indeed have dual desires. In the end a person is only as truthful as their desire to let someone in. Delighted to see you here Mary. (Hugs)Indigo

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  16. I write about a handsome guy that is super good at math, is an athlete, and has all the qualities that I don't possess. Maybe I'm doing this because that's how I see myself on the inside, even if it is not what is real on the outside. I will never be good at any sport and am certainly not good-looking. I am decent at math but not astounding at it. So yeah, I think writers tend to explore things in their writing that they may not have access to in real life. It makes sense to me.

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    1. Writing opens up worlds of possibility to an author. I think for me that's part of the allure. Great to see you here Michael! (Hugs)Indigo

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  17. writers liars? i don't see it like that. i see readers as being those who 'experience' others experiences, in circumstances of the writers creation... because a writer writes about that which is close to him/her.

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    1. Liars in the sense of selling imagination and culling believable stories, but even then there is always the writer's experiences and true nature beneath the words. Our fiction is the made up lie, with a hint of truth beneath the skin, down to the bones of who the writer is.(Hugs)Indigo

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  18. Your gift for writing is touching beyond words,Indigo.
    So often I am inspired and reminded that by each of our
    own challenges - we are offered rewards.There is nothing
    we cannot balance with art of acceptance and living creatively.NO matter how dark we feel at times,there is something the human spirit offers us to guide us.Like a light,and YOU Indigo,shine so bright.Thank you for that.
    It fuels my own hopes.
    Tab xo

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    1. Thank you Tabitha. I definitely believe writing offers a balance to my silent world. You're a bright spot in my life as well sweet friend. (Hugs)Indigo

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  19. WOW! What a powerful post, Indigo. I also love the Oscar Wilde quote you chose for this article. As a writer, I try to tell myself that I'm just telling made-up stories but not necessarily lies. I try to convey my emotions through my characters. My friends could tell you that I'm an open book even though it sounds cliche'.

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    1. Thanks Claudia! The Oscar Wilde quote resonated with me. I tend to be rather introvert. The mask (my computer screen) allows me to be more honest with myself and people I don't necessarily know. In person, I tend to quietly observe until I feel I'm ready to open up.

      With my characters, I think readers will get a view into me like never before. (Hugs)Indigo

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  20. As writers, we all fill in blanks with our imagination. We don't have to experience things to imagine what they are like. Glad you found some inspiration in your experiences. Crazy neighbors are part of my real and fictional world too!

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    1. Thanks Janel! I'm almost tempted to write a horror book based on crazy neighbors. I do believe a lot of people would be able to relate. (Hugs)Indigo

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  22. I can't type without errors today :(

    Deafness is catching? Well hell....why didn't you tell me sooner!

    People are strange and fearful creatures. We have to forgive them and ourselves, our ridiculous humanness. But right before doing so, there is the sting of pain, yes? We all want to be understood. None of us completely are.

    Love you!

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    1. Hey sweet friend,

      Yes, there is that slight sting of pain, right before the moment I begin to pity them. Not in a bad way, more to the point of how narrow their world is in that moment.

      Honestly, I think writing is my form of striving to be understood. A way to give people a glimpse below the surface. (Hugs)Indigo

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  23. This is incredible. I am so proud of you and the way you have changed your life for the better. You being deaf doesn't hold you back, it doesn't change you (for me) but I know it's changed you. Does that make sense?

    Love you. xo

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    1. You're one of the few people who've been there since the beginning sweet friend, and yes it makes total sense.

      I have changed. I've grown into my skin and learned to embrace my silence; made it a part of me instead of the whole. Sending bushels of love your way. xo (Hugs)Indigo

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  24. A great explanation of writing AND deafness AND truth. I stretch the truth in my blog (only a little, of course;) because daily life is pretty mundane.
    I remember what you shared about your early life on an older blog, and the pain and hardships you have endured. When I read this today I can feel and "hear" the strong woman you are today. I'm so happy for you!

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    1. Thanks so much Lou! I do feel and hear 'me' more strongly than I ever have before. I never thought I'd arrive at this place. (Hugs)Indigo

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  25. This was an amazing post! As usual. Happy applause for you!

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  26. LOVELY!!! I really love how you see the world. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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    1. Thanks Laura! I'm loving the view from my perspective too. (Hugs)Indigo

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  27. Thank you Indigo for this post. Truth is what we make of it, and you make yours so beautiful and raw.

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    1. Thanks Lydia! I believe all truth is beautiful and raw in it's own way. (Hugs)Indigo

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  28. You always make me think when I read you - I missed you!

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    1. Hey you! Missed you tons too! A wonderful compliment, to know I make people think about what I've written. (Hugs)Indigo

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  29. People's perception of others is shot. I think the upper 1% run all given forms of society and shape the way we think, the way we feel and the way we do things in hopes of making our lives better and enriched. But nothing could be further from the truth...what is standard is usually wrong, and what is wrong is seldom normal.

    Keep working hard with all that you do, let your hands be your industry so as no one could ever dispute you being true to yourself!

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    1. Thanks Jack! Delighted to see you over here in my thought stream. I plan to always be true to myself in life and in writing. (Hugs)Indigo

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  30. The thing I'm most grateful for Indigo is that you communicate effectively like no other. To quote that profound institution.... the yellow pages, you "let your fingers do the walking" and they speak for you most eloquently...

    Mik

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  31. Vigorously nodding my head in agreement!

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    1. Thank you! Delighted to know you agree. (Hugs)Indigo

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  32. Fascinating post. And very topical for me. I just recently told my students how I believe one reason we write is to try to understand how another's mind works. And I said almost the same exact thing as you. Even if someone tells us their version of their truth, there is no way of knowing what they really think because they color it with their own perceptions, and then we interpret it with ours. Truth is elusive. And again, very topical, a friend of mine recently posted the following on her Facebook:

    "Sometimes truth isn’t found with concrete scientific facts, and

    Sometimes truth is not found through blind faith, and

    Sometimes my truth is not yours

    Nor yours mine

    Truth is an understanding; a poignant awareness that It exists within all things

    You can experience It, reflecting in your eyes, in everything you see..and feel

    Casting light where there was dark

    My hands in prayer posture; To your truths and mine

    Namaste’"


    Paul D. Dail
    www.pauldail.com- A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

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    1. Thanks Paul for these poignant reflections. Truth is indeed elusive. To quote Oscar Wilde, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

      I do believe when we write we see reflections of ourselves we never knew existed. Writing explores life on an intimate level. (Hugs)Indigo

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  33. "We can spin a tale like no other and not only will you believe us, you’ll be asking for more" -- love it. A profound post, one I'll be taking with me, returning hither for more.

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    1. Always a welcome presence here Milo. Thank you and I do hope you return for more. (Hugs)Indigo

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  34. through our slanted perceptions of the world, we can make sense of it. no one has the answers for others, and when people start believing they don't have biases, what they are saying is that they see things more clearly than others. maybe that's too harsh and i'm just thinking of some journalists i may know:) as you say, your being deaf is a part of you. your experiences of life are shaped by it. and it is reflected in your beautifully slanted version of reality, as we read it.

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    1. All of our slanted perceptions of the world make life a beautiful experience. I enjoy your unique version as well Ed. (Hugs)Indigo

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  35. "you might find me hidden somewhere in the story. I hope not, if I’m any good at all, you bought the lie hook, line, and sinker.''

    Life being so short, why aim for concealment?

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    1. From a writer's perspective it's not necessarily concealment, rather the desire for the reader to find themselves in the story.

      Thanks for stopping by! (Hugs)Indigo

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  36. Dear friend, how lovely this is. And heartbreaking, and hopeful. I'm a fan.

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    1. Thank you so much! Delighted to have you here.(Hugs) Indigo

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  37. Sometimes life can be a lie, appearing to be what it is not...love Oscar's thought. Love this entry! brilliant!!!

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    1. It's been a while sweet friend! (Hugs)Indigo

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  38. Working hard at learning ASL (and so I understand Deaf Culture and Deaf Pride to the nearest of my ability as an ally), I feel like when you wrote "When I write, I'm not deaf" to be an expression of you overcoming what others perceive as a limitation or boundary on your ability to express and communicate your thoughts and feelings. In which case, I think it's an authentic truth that comes from your sense of who you are (and what right do we have to shake our heads no at that?) When I write, I am not a victim or survivor, just a normal girl. But many would disagree with that if filed under, say, a medical context. Writing allows us to loose our chains of the way we (and others) have defined us and to take flight. There is no dishonesty in tossing off labels. Just freedom from the limitations of our own thought.

    As for the cashier who jerked her hand away - I hope she feels just as silly as we all think her to be.

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    1. You know, I love the way your mind works. Years ago on a distant blog (which is no longer in use), one of the first blog post I ever wrote stated - I wanted to break out of the box people tried to lock me in. Even way back in the beginning of this journey, I didn't believe in stereotyping.

      I guess I have to get busy with the ASL classes myself...(winks). I'm still a hold out on some aspects of my deafness. (Hugs)Indigo

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  39. People fear what they don't know. You teach by your example of knowing around others. I wish that more would learn from that and not be afraid. I am glad that you write about your experiences. And how you notice others who are far more lacking in all their senses than you. Perhaps at some time, they will come to.

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  40. Fantastic writing!
    Who is a bigger liar, the writer or the reader? the reader will make whatever he or she wants of the words no matter what the intended meaning was.

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.