"Bethany Was Here" - Desiring to be Known

On Tuesday I went with my friend, Kara, to photography the Lennon Wall. I had walked briefly by the wall in the past but had never really stopped to look at it. I really enjoyed reading the things people wrote on the wall and the pictures people drew. It really was beautiful in its own unique way.

I was thinking as I took my pictures about what makes people write on a wall like that. Many people who write on the wall do nothing more than sign their name and that’s it - “John was here”. I think there is something in the human psyche that desires to be known, to leave a mark on the world and the people around them – something in us that wants people to know “Bethany was here.” And so even though we long for our mark to be bigger than just a name on a wall, and we desire to be known by people in a more intimate way then just our name, when faced with a chance to do something even as little as writing our name on a wall we’ll do it.

I think that’s why blogging has taken off so much. I think that desire is a lot of why I blog – it’s a way of leaving my mark. It’s a way of being known and saying “I was here.” It gives a little fuller picture of me then if I just wrote my name on the Lennon wall, but in a lot of ways it’s still pretty shallow. Blogging is still just a mark on a wall. It paints a picture of who I was at a certain time in my life and who I am now, but it’s not a full picture. “It’s true but not complete” as my friend, Tara, says. It might be a fuller picture then just my name on a wall, but it still doesn’t satisfy that deep need inside to be known and remembered – to belong and matter.

Today I met for coffee with some friends. They are probably my closest friends in Prague and currently my closest friends in the world (besides my husband). But, there are days, like today, when I still feel very unknown by them. There are times when I withdraw and don’t fully reveal myself, there are times when I show only a half true, manicured picture of myself and my heart. Why is that? Why is it that we have this deep longing to belong, to be known, to leave our mark, to matter and be accepted and reveal ourselves to other human beings, but that we often run from that desire? Why is it that especially in those moments when I so deeply want to be known I pull away? Is it fear? Is it that I don’t feel valuable enough to share with another? Or is it something else entirely? Does anyone else do this or feel this way? Or is it just me?

Maybe part of why we leave marks on walls and write blogs is because we long to be known and remembered, but maybe part of it is that it’s safe. It’s easier to leave a mark on a wall and feel like you made a mark on the world, than it is to actually go out there and make a mark on the world. It’s easier to write a blog and reveal a little part of yourself through the privacy of your own home and the small window that is cyberspace than it is to actually reveal yourself when face-to-face with another human being.

So, there’s my mark, for today, this is where I was at on September 11, 2008.

“Bethany was here”

Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman

Photographs by Beth Stedman