One of my favorite “story cycles” in Scary Close begins in the chapter wonderfully titled “Everybody’s Got a Story, and It’s Not the One They’re Telling.” That part of the book deals with Miller’s struggles with childhood insecurity and self-preservation as he makes peace with his younger self. It’s an odd mix for Miller, who realizes much of what he has become was a means of protecting that part of himself that first felt shame (“a dog peed on my coat”) while also realizing that for years he had been “sending a nine-year-old out to do all [his] performing.” People really are amazing complicated, aren’t they?
It’s an interesting question: what do we do with our (many) selves? We have them based on age, on interests, on geographical location. I’ve even noticed that I have a differently nuanced self for each class that graduates (if that makes any sense). And it’s easy to lose yourself in the mix. I don’t mean “true self” necessarily. But I do mean that deep and untouchable you, untouchable except for the God who made you. That part of you that is “hidden in Christ.” I can’t help but think of one of my favorite fictional characters, the Doctor. From the moment we meet him (in his 9th incarnation, at least), he is on the run: from his enemies, from his recent past, and from himself. It really isn’t until the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, that he (quite literally) catches up with himself. The moment is significant and amazing.
From Miller on making peace with that nine-year-old performing self:
The moment was powerful for me. I’d completely disassociated from the kid who had taken apart his tape recorder. I hardly knew him. I’d not raised him to maturity and he’d spent the last thirty years lonely and desperate for attention. It’s no wonder I hid from the world. It’s not wonder parties made me tired or I got exhausted after I spoke. It’s not wonder criticism made me angry or I overreacted to failure. I think the part of me I sent out to interact with the world was, in some ways, underdeveloped, still trying to be bigger and smarter as a measure of survival.
Heaven help us catch up with ourselves, not to leave our selves behind. And thank you, Jesus, for reconciling all things.