birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


What would it be like to have confidence?
What would it be like to have belief in myself, and my abilities?

It is something I do not hope for, nor aspire to. It seems impossible.

On my best days—really?—I think my lack is simply laziness. I am just too lazy to take the kind of responsibility needed to act confidently.

“To keep faith with”—that is what “confident” means. Can I keep faith with myself? What does that even mean? What would I need to be faithful to?

Yet again, last Friday, a friend said, “You’re a writer! Why can’t you just write?!” I objected strenuously—“I AM NOT A WRITER!” I wonder if that is what I am not keeping faith with?

More generally, I am not keeping faith with expressing myself, with communicating, in a more or less public way. I do fine when I am talking with a friend, or with a client, one-on-one. I receive them and respond.

The Bible says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” [Hebrews 11:1]. What would it be like to claim a hope to be a writer, to become convicted of some unseen character of communicating?

The Latin root “fidere” mean “to trust.” Whom or what must I trust, in order to speak and write with confidence? Myself? Others? God?

I have NO hope of trusting this much! And, why is it even necessary? There are way too many people talking and writing anyway! The cacophony on any given day is mind-numbing, bone-chilling, and just plain TOO DAMN MUCH. So, why would I, should I, enter the fray?

Well, because I need to keep faith with myself. It all feels so circuitous. Hoping for some transformation that would allow me to hope for some permission to hope for some forum to hope for some validation and reception of my hope.

One of the synonyms listed for confidence is “aplomb.” Aplomb is defined as “assurance, especially when in a demanding situation.” Its connotation, to my mind, always has an element of swagger—albeit appropriate, within-limits swagger. Some of its synonyms are levelheaded, calmness, collectedness and composure, equanimity, equilibrium, unflappability. President Obama has aplomb; President Trump does not.

Aplomb, in its French roots, is related to steadiness and balance. A plomb literally translates “according to a plummet,” and a plommet is a “small sounding lead”—a drop straight down. So to have “aplomb” is to drop straight down with all calmness and equanimity—without “flapping” ones arms [which wouldn’t work anyway]? Now, that would require very great hope!
Where is this all heading? Toward a hope of confidence, of aplomb, of unflappability?

One last word that appears as a synonym for “aplomb” is “sangfroid”—which comes from French words meaning “blood” and “cold,” and means “composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances.” And, perhaps, this finally brings me to an awareness of my reluctance and fears that keep me from hope and confidence.

I never, ever want to be cold-blooded! I never, ever want to even appear cold-blooded! I will NOT, CANNOT be cold-blooded. Is this true?—probably not. And, getting to this place gives me—HOPE! Odd that.

The connection goes like this: Cold-blooded people do not care about their effect on others; cold-blooded people ignore and neglect others. Cold-blooded is the quality needed for confidence. Confidence is ignoring and neglecting people. This conundrum is a made-up double-bind; there is a flaw in the logic that still escapes me.

I have to get confidence connected to caring and disconnected from cold-bloodedness, so that I can have hope of communicating in service of caring.

I need to undo the double-bind. Can I? I hope so ;~\

Molto Mantra Per Favore

Madame President