If you’ve read this column at all, you know there’s one subject I can’t shut up about: Myself. I’ll write about my non-masculine bike, or what I did over the weekend or the people and places I love in Durango. Me, me, me.
Believe it or not, I actually stay up thinking about how much of a self-indulgent navel-gazer I really am, which results in even more self-indulgence. “Get over yourself!” I shout at myself nightly.
I want to acknowledge that I am aware of it and that you’re free to hate me because of it. But I’ve come to know in my writing career that it’s kind of what I do. It’s my thing, trying to turn my experience into something relevant to others. Shared experience and first-person storytelling definitely has a place in society and in literature and has for eons. The challenging part is getting others to come along and buy in to your story, for them to see the value you see, to derive what you hope they might derive. Not because I or any personal essayist is any more special than you, but because we have stories to tell, communicators trying to make sense of the world.
I say this all to preface the fact that I’m doing a show at the Durango Arts Center on May 19. It’s called “We Are Broken and We Are Whole,” and it’s a one-man show that I wrote and will perform. Surprise! It’s about me. And my life. And something I went through, something big, a life experience. It’s a story about being trapped in a life that I needed out of and a woman, my ex-wife, who became collateral damage as a result. It’s a deeply personal story where I share longings for love and freedom, where I admit mistakes and failures, where I confess anxieties, fears and triumphs.
As my dear friend and the director of my show, Sarah Syverson, wrote for the program, “A story told in equal parts fiction and truth about what it means to be caged and what it takes to be free. Both captivating and revealing, David Holub guides you through the mysteries found in the most common places of our lives.” It’s an eloquent description that would have taken me a year to write on my own.
While the show is blatantly and intentionally a mix of fiction and nonfiction, being a writer of both genres, I always wonder where the line between fact and fiction lies. I wonder this even when I am, say, writing in this space about an experience I had. As I write in “We Are Broken,” “The stories we tell are our own and they are as much true as they are false.”
When I participate in personal writing, as I do so much in this column, I always try to remember just how subjective our experience is, the things we assume as “truth,” how our account of “what happened” might have been a different experience entirely for someone else, with different outcomes and conclusions. With every experience, every interaction we have, we bring our own histories, our upbringings, our biases, our strengths and shortcomings. Often we hear and see what we want to, what we already know, what we’ve come to expect, what makes us comfortable, what makes the world make sense to us. The truth (if there is such a thing) and what “really happened” is often secondary, whether we mean it to be or not.
I’m going to keep writing about myself, what I’m thinking about and what I’m up to. Because that’s what I do. It might come off as self-indulgent at times, and it probably is on occasion. I won’t pretend that I am telling you the truth. I am telling you my truth as I know it.
Oh, and come see my show, as self-indulgent as that sounds. I’d love to share my stories with you.