SHOW AND TELL
“I was wondering when I would appear on your blog,” Chris said casually, in the kitchen.
You shrugged dismissively. “You may have noticed that I don’t tend to write about the people who are close to me.”
You make your life very public. At least, that’s how it seems. What happens to you, the good and the bad, the lucky and unlucky, the slightly perverted and obnoxious all makes for good story-telling.
“Telling is not the same as showing,” someone once said to you. Who uttered it? Were they special? Were they close? It must have been a girl. It must have been a lover. It must have been someone who knew you so well that you appeared transparent. You probably never needed to tell her anything. She simply understood you.
You could have written about Chris—the story of how you met. It’s a good one. It’s a story about two off-beat people who strike up a balance; it’s a story of exploration. The story happened to you. It’s yours. But perhaps only in half.
Your writing ethics were called into question once. You didn’t care about that fellow (or any of the others) as you dragged him kicking and screaming into the public. He, clearly, wasn’t paying attention to your feelings. To help manage people’s expectations, you later added to your online persona: “If you behave like an ass, don’t be surprised when I write about you.”
To supplement that, you could write, “If I care about you, I will have shown it—never told about it on the blog. In other words, when I don’t write about you, I’m showing you that I care.”
Your actual feelings about events and people can never appear in true form. The words are too flexible. The people are too dear; and your feelings are too private; the feelings of those you love, too precious. Hence, this blog is a mere abstraction. It’s a slice of your personality; or a shade of your color-spectrum.
It reads like a series of under-exposed snapshots, viewed without context.
* * *
THE EXPERIMENTAL ONLINE DATING PROFILE
Who are you? Be careful what you choose to say! All these categories are in fact neat little cages for your identity. Little prisons. You begin to draw a box around yourself with every additional word. Suddenly you are no longer yourself; you have been cast in the role of yourself.
How many identities can you create and still have them all be true? What used to stand here was pile of boxes. Truth statements. The best approximation of truth, given how pliable words can be. Words are delightfully flexible to suit your advantage; stubbornly rigid to support your defenses.
What should you omit? What should you admit?
You will merely say what you do: you create meaning and identity in every moment. You take responsibility for everyone you meet and everything that happens to you.
If you don’t like the result, change the input.
THE MOST PRIVATE THING I’M WILLING TO ADMIT:
If it were really private, admission would be out of the question.
This question should read like a statement: either, ‘YOU ARE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF’ or ‘YOU VALUE YOURSELF SO HIGHLY THAT NO ONE IS WORTHY OF ACCESS TO YOU.’
I SPEND A LOT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT…
Is there any substance to the accusation of “lying by omission?” What the hell does that even mean? To live in truth, should you remain wholly private or wholly public? Would everything in between be a lie?
People get upset when they learn the truth. Turns out they don’t want to hear it.
What to admit? What to omit? How to sell, sell, sell, sell yourself!
* * *
BEFORE YOU WRITE…
How to sell yourself?
How to maintain your relationships?
How to control people with information?
How to live in truth?
How to avoid hurting people?
* * *
In the five and a half years since you began writing this frivolous blog, you have suffered. But you have also succeeded. Loved. Lost. Experimented. Languished. You have hurt others, hurt yourself, been hurt by others. You have helped others, helped yourself, and been helped by others.
You have felt every feeling. Even told about them. Written much less.
You go around lightly sprinkling abstractions of your feelings on people through stories. You do not go around thoughtlessly dumping your real feelings on people.
Feelings are heavy. Burdensome. And a huge responsibility.
It never occurred to you that you have been such a teller and not nearly enough of a shower that the magnitude of the responsibility would come as such a surprise.
* * *
HOW NOT TO PLAY IT SAFE
While traveling with Maeva, you often said, “I don’t understand your short temper. Why you get so aggro about dumb shit.”
She responded, “I don’t understand why dumb shit makes you cry.”
Later, a psychologist would tell you that “anger is safer than sadness.”
That certainly explains your heaviness. Because you never raise your voice.