By Daniel Boscaljon
Image by Melissa D. Johnston
“confession: the nature of my crime” is the third letter in a series of posts called Letters to You written by Daniel Boscaljon with images by Melissa D. Johnston (from one of her ongoing projects). Letters to You began in July with “everytime i write i feel myself disintegrate.”
If I have, in fact, committed a crime, I offer this up as my confession and apology: 1) I am guilty for a lack of self-reflection: I wrote to you when I was tired, and the presence of sheer honesty obscured the level of half-truths in which we are used to communicating. I’ve let you become accustomed to reading through what is there–and not the thing itself. If in being purely honest I have misled you, I am sorry. 2) Instead of being honest and stating that I miss you and need to find myself in your words–the words of past or future–I decided to accuse you falsely of crimes uncommitted. The truth is that i need to hear from you–to hear you address me, as me. I need for you to fill voids in my life, unavoidably present, as much as I attempt to see past and through them. My life is empty: I want you to fill me up. It isn’t your responsibility, you aren’t obligated…but I want to think that you want to do this. 3) I desire to assume that I mean as much to you as you mean to me, even when I know that it is an absurd truth, and therefore far from the truth at all. 4) When you tell me the truth, I want to hear it all as lies. When you lie to me, I wish to see it as the truth. I wish I could be less human than this, but human I remain. 5) I told you that I would tend your garden, but I did not. Weeds grew, unobserved, in the evening. Should I have told you I do not know a flower from a weed? Should I have told you that I think weeds are as beautiful as the flowers you desire? Should I have told you that I was busy during that time period and couldn’t do justice to your instructions? I told you that I would tend your garden, but my tendency was to sit and do nothing, allowing nature to run its course. You knew this about me, however: in entrusting me, were you counting on my failure? This, now, is my hope.6) You said that you would return. You promised you would come back for me: how was I to know? When I was obedient, you stayed far from me. In sinning, I merely wanted to see you once again, even to see you angry. I would rather have you judge me than ignore me. Is this a crime? 7) I can be righteous for a moment at a time, but only a moment. If you make me wait past these moments and I fall from grace, if I get bored with waiting and wander into unmarked deserts–is this my fault, or yours? 8) I am guilty of being empty but wanting to be full. I am guilty of trying to hide from the lack of reality in my life. I am guilty of sleeping too little and dreaming too much. I am guilty of not being ashamed. 9) Instead of simply missing you, I choose to blame myself for imaginary crimes or blame you for a lack of attention. If being human differed from being guilty, I’d offer this as an excuse. Instead, I can only confess and testify this is so.
Daniel Boscaljon has Ph.D.s in Modern Religious Thought and 19th-century American Literature, both from the University of Iowa. His interest is in the fragility and liminality of human experiences. His first book, Vigilant Faith: Passionate Agnosticism in the Secular World will be published by the University of Virginia Press this August.