Monkey Mind comes out in about seven months, and as the final changes get implemented (a word my editor has banned me from using due to some horrible prejudice), and I continue to drive the copy editors, proofreaders, and sub-editors mad with all my niggling worries about commas and semi-colons and line breaks and the like, one worry does not seem to have me bolting up at night in a cold white panic. This is the worry of what people keep calling “exposure,” as in: “Dan, aren’t you worried about all the … exposure?”
What they mean to ask is whether I’m nervous about people knowing the towering extent of my anxiety. Strangely, I’m not. I’m worried about people knowing the towering extent of my inability to write as well as I’d like. I’ve been trying to get my editor to include the following blurb on the hardcover:
“Now the world shall know the full scope of my ineptitude. If I could, I’d buy ever last copy of this book and bury them in my backyard. But I don’t have a backyard, cause I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life.” —Daniel Smith
She won’t do it.
The so-called revelations don’t bother me much, though. I’m not entirely certain why this is. It could be that the act of revealing one’s vices and disturbances has become so common in our time — so almost reflexive — that there’s simply nothing to be nervous about. If Paris Hilton can record herself fellating a guy in night vision, why should I be concerned about telling people I’m anxious? Where’s the shame when there’s no such thing as shame anymore?
And if there should be shame in self-revelation, why should there be shame in self-revelation about anxiety, of all things? Anxiety is universal. It might have a pathological tinge to it now, but it’s an evolutionary fact. No anxiety, no vigilance; no vigilance and the lion in the bushes catches you unawares, tears your head off, and rips the meat right off your ribs. All hail anxiety!
Also, I hope that whatever self-revelations exist in the book don’t exist for their own sake. That is, I hope they’re included because they say something significant about how our minds work and don’t work, about how our minds can become these feral, unhinged things.
Still, there’s a bridge too far, in my mind. I’ll write a book about anxiety, but I refuse to wear this shirt. I don’t want everyone to know.