"Anyone who is in a position to require honest expression from me just needs to hear what I think; they don’t want to hear what I think they should hear about what I think."

Playing guitar has taught me that I am not perceptive of my expressive body. The acoustic I play is really, really loud, which subliminally strains your voice to keep up with the output. This went unnoticed until I played a friend’s really, really quiet guitar and noticed that I was used to yelling, not singing. Having your voice gain autonomy is imperative of a non-classical singer, but doing that in a suitable manner is an aporia. How do you gain autonomy without becoming selfish? How do you find a way to be responsive without subversion?

Playing guitar is something I mostly do alone, but I sing markedly different when I’m with others. I’m less adventurous, a bit more fidgety. After playing for someone, I almost always feel the way you do when you leave a conversation feeling you expressed yourself horribly and only find the right things to say afterwards.

So for me, this project was about openness, not flesh. That’s the metaphorical meaning of “naked,” ain’t it? I didn’t approach this project concerned with body issues, sex, etc. I didn’t want my penis visible in any shots, and while I convinced myself the main reason was the ol’ “thou shalt not put dick pics on the internet” it’s also the only part of my body that I directly correspond to sex. Sex for me is a private issue, visuals of my penis correspondingly private. Maybe I am caught up in body issues that I haven’t taken notice of, but it’s not something I dwell on. But as with a rowdy guitar, these things affect you regardless of being noticed.

The only time I was distracted by nudity was while taking my clothes off, because it’s an action not a state. After that, I quickly forgot I was naked. My cat was wandering around and seemed to not care either. What I couldn’t ignore was the presence of the camera and the photographer: I kept asking myself “what do I normally do back here?” then would meekly try to act in spite of the presence. I quickly forgot I was naked, but couldn’t ignore that Kate was there. What I found through this project was that I don’t have an issue with revealing myself, but rather I have an issue with how I choose to reveal myself with the acknowledgment of the other. Adjusting to someone’s presence is unavoidable for me, proof I’m not a sociopath (yey!). And perhaps that’s a good thing, in essence. How I go about doing it, meanwhile, needs improvement.

What I need to adjust is tailoring my expression towards what I think the other can and wants to hear. Anyone who is in a position to require honest expression from me just needs to hear what I think; they don’t want to hear what I think they should hear about what I think. And I need to trust that the best thing for me to say isn’t necessarily the most digestible thing, both for what I believe about them and what I think myself.

There is an infinity of things I am not aware of doing. With awareness comes control, or at least the possibility to control. But I don’t accept that awareness is only the awareness of insurmountable problems. That doesn’t grant control, but cede it. I’m not interested in finding the unattainable ‘perfect’ expression, but in balance. 

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