Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"The pen is the tongue of the mind."

~ Miguel de Cervantes

I have a tendency to freeze in the moment. I’m certainly not unique in this way: many people lack the words when they need them. Me and them, we’re better after the fact. During the moment, the feelings and words are static, frozen, waiting until we’re alone to thaw. We need time to percolate. And that percolation may affect us more than the original moment did because things are clearer than they were. Now, outside that moment, on our own, we experience indignation or jubilance, and we know just the right words.

Me, frozen. The other day I was asked a series of rather personal questions. They weren’t necessarily out of bounds, but they’re the kind I usually don’t get asked because I so successfully project this bubble of aloofness. The way I fold my arms. The way I look down. The pregnant pause before I give a polite smile, as if I have to think before deciding to respond. I don’t encourage familiarity. In that moment, the other day, I responded by withdrawing from the situation. It was only after the fact that I felt anger over the intrusion, as if my privacy and my bubble had been violated.

I found the words yesterday. I said that I’m a very private person and I feel uncomfortable with this discussion. And now that I’ve found those words and can put them in a place where I can deal with them—in writing, in front of me, waiting to be manipulated—I see the comedy of it all: Me, a private, private person; me with a personal blog, writing my deep down thoughts for anyone to see; me with a facebook page and 100 friends; me with a twitter account, tweeting for the world—or my “followers”—to see; and me, who likes to indulge the melancholy, to be alone and undisturbed.

It’s funny. But I think most of my readers will agree when I say the two things – being private while broadcasting to a larger audience – are not necessarily incongruent. Writing, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, are indeed about controlling the message and constructing our identity. That doesn’t mean that any of it is dishonest – quite the contrary! It’s just that some of us need that little bit of time before expressing ourselves, presenting ourselves to one person or the world. Writing, whatever form it takes, provides that bit of time. The pregnant pause before hitting “post” or “send” is not awkward.

One of my unspoken goals is to merge my inner world with my outer one. Teaching and working in the public library have helped, but both of them are very controlled settings, with few surprises; I already have the words for those settings, and I rarely have to improvise.

Tonight I’m going to a birthday bash for an area blogger group. It’s not a group to which I formally belong, but I think it would be a good thing to be a part of. I know a couple people who will be there.

Merge, merge, me, them, us.

No comments: