“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
What would make this navel any different from the ones nobody wants to see?
Some sassy in-your-face rant?
A heap of peeling sticky notes?
A little brown girl and a little white boy playing with bugs in the dirt, running like wolves and roaring into the sky?
Belly button lint in the form of post-its, spilling out over the desk, collecting gunk in the bottom of my purse, stuck together like the layers of an onion.
The pain and confusion of not being able to trust your own mind. Of having your muse get a sudden case of stage fright in the one moment she needs to sing loud and clear. Of curling up beside your patient lover, pen in hand, and when he leans down to nibble your arm, shrieking and hitting him. Freezing in terror at what you've done. Trying to explain in your best calm voice, through helpless tears, “No, no, it's okay. I didn't mean to hurt you.” Words failing. Hurt recoiling. I'm just trying to teach myself it's okay to come out and play.
I'll count on the stickies instead. Gather them into an unceremonious pile and meticulously peel them apart one by one:
People who live in glass houses shouldn't walk around naked.
People who want to look tough shouldn't pretend to be dragons.
Not even fear. Fear could be fought, faced down with a gaze willing to take the consequences, lasted out like an ocean storm. I could take manual control of the hand with the pen and force it to scrawl words on the page, any words, freewriting until the spell broke. But this is not fear, it is nothing....
The internet is a fishbowl full of navels. Little fleshy bundles floating in a magnifying sea, trailing bits of umbilical cord. Some haven't been washed in years. Some are pierced. Some sag in tattooed rolls of postpartum fat. Stare at yours long enough and everyone else will stare too.
People who live in internet fishbowls shouldn't walk around naked.