The Consequence of Words

connect or divide,
lift up or put down,
breathe life or suck the oxygen from a room.
The latter is easier.
The former is worth any effort.

I’ve spent much of my life feeling like an outsider. I’ve not been rejected or excluded. The opposite is true. But I’ve always sensed an atmospheric pressure to assimilate—an expectation that felt unnecessary at best and damaging at worst. I suspect many people feel this way and, consequently, have struggled much more than I have. I’m fortunate, some might say “blessed.” I’m certainly privileged, which really complicates whatever is meant by “blessed.” I’ve learned to play insider games in communities where insider language is rewarded—academia, church, music scenes. But I’ll largely forgo that language in this blog. I’m inclined to think we’re all more “outsiders” than we’re comfortable admitting. And perhaps if we learn to confess our particular perspectives within this world’s complex web, we can connect as a diverse human community in ways more profound than any insider status could afford.


  1. Nick, your insightful comment reminds me that when I was younger I often felt somehow apart from others, too. I enjoyed the observer’s role, and often thought that this was where a writer’s vocation began. However, I never have really embraced that work! Glad to see you taking this step. Love, your Auntie.

  2. It’s true that reflection often arises out of a certain distance from things one knows well. In my case, it’s also the sense not only of being “apart from other” but of being part of a community that transcends inherited boundaries. My experience has been one of both disconnect and genuine connection.

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