Last night I slept for 12 hours. Well, I was in bed for 12 hours. Except for the time it took me to get up and pack Michael’s lunch and set out his breakfast cereal. Then I got back in bed, although I wasn’t particularly tired. I wanted the warmth of the covers and the permission to let my brain go undirected.
We got in bed at 8:22 p.m. “We must be at least 70 years old,” I told Michael. “After this week, I feel like it,” he said and fell asleep. I lay in the darkness, thinking there was no way I could fall asleep so early. I wished I could read but the light would bother him unless I got up and left the room. I decided not to. I stared at the ceiling and cataloged my thoughts. These days I hardly take the time to realize what I’m thinking. It explains why I blog less. Let’s be honest, despite my grand intentions, this blog is always all about me.
Sometimes I want to create a second blog. A more secret blog. One without my name and all the identifying details I’ve let slip over the years. One not posted on my Facebook page. Then I could write with raw honesty. My best writing often doesn’t make it past the Publish button. I pour it out and then realize, I can’t tell them that. I’m not full of dark secrets. But it’s unwise to share everything with everyone.
In fifth grade I read a book called Island of the Blue Dolphins. An Indian girl gets left behind by her tribe when they leave their island. She’s trying to save her brother, who dies anyway and she’s left all alone. In her tribe they have a custom – each person gets two names. One is a public name they can use freely and tell to strangers. The other is a private name only shared with those closest to them. It’s bad luck to tell your private name to someone you can’t trust.
We used to have public selves and private selves. Parts of us were only revealed to those we trusted. That’s changing. We created MySpace, then Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, and everything else. A lost and lonely generation decided to share our private selves with the world in search of understanding. We felt liberated, empowered and connected. But the question inevitably follows, how much sharing is too much? And are we really connected at all, or are we more isolated than ever before?
Writers began sharing their private selves long before the Internet. Authors and musicians have been exposing their souls through their art since the beginning. Their words touch us and move us and connect with deep parts of ourselves. But does the sharing help the sharer? So many of these leave life early and only their words remain.
I walk a careful line. I want my words to resonate with people. I want them to peer inside of me and exclaim, “I feel that way too!” Yet I don’t want to share too much. I want my private self, my secret name. I want to have something special to give to the ones I love – a piece of me that no one else knows. Perhaps I cross the line sometimes and tell too much and make myself vulnerable to strangers I can’t trust. Perhaps I hold too much back sometimes and become irrelevant or even dishonest. Most likely my words will be a cliche of this generation. One voice of a billion, floating around in cyberspace, asking who am I and hoping someone replies.