We are often bereft of the actuality of things: the real facts, true and tangible, and it is also true that moments occur when we are the gatekeepers of the information that might give someone else insight into the vulnerabilities alive within. I want to speak a little bit to that.
A great sum of the reasoning behind my writing personal essays for public view again is to be honest (even if it’s only one person who takes the time to read this) and issue some form of responsible clarity, opening a wide but still limited window into my life’s living room, as it were. Should I open the window to the bedroom or, even worse, the bathroom, I might give you too much of myself. It is my own belief that there has to be a line in the sand when it comes to sharing with others. If we let flow the nozzle of closely held privacies to anyone without question or filter or discrepancy, then we run the risk of continuing our illustrious culture of voyeurism, which we often perpetuate through social media and the immediate ability to transfer information from one person to another person to a host of persons. Such is the world we live in.
But this is not a rant on social media, although I’ve done that before. This is about telling the truth.
When I lived in Nashville, not to long ago, I set a meeting with an old magazine man by the name of Ken. Now, Ken was—and still is—one of those old curmudgeons that utilizes wit in humorous flair to do two things: keep the conversation from coming to an abrupt and awkward stop and to ply up underlying facts that don’t always taste so good without a decent laugh by way of delivery. He also made National Geographic an international magazine. No shit. I can see him, sitting across the table from me, burger in hand, making sure the ketchup wasn’t added beneath the bun, despite of his protests.
“Ketchup is all sugar, you know. They don’t even have to have tomatoes in it anymore. Can you believe that?”
I was trying to win his approval, so that, in turn, he would talk to the publishers with which he consulted in order to capture their print business. He knew what I wanted, and I didn’t hide the fact. But sitting there, we started talking about life, as people do, and since he had such a long career in the print and publishing industry, I did what any young professional should do when in the presence of a successful traveler in his or her field: I asked him for advice.
“Tell the truth,” he said, “always. It isn’t always the best short-term goal, but there is no better goal for the long-term.”
Then Ken took the biggest bite of his bacon, cheeseburger (no ketchup) possible into his mouth and said, in classic-Ken fashion, “Don’t tell my wife I ate this.”
I do realize that Ken was talking about business, but for a moment, I considered what it would be like to tell the truth in every facet of life. I am under the impression that, as humans, our ultimate fear is being rejected by family, friends, even strangers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise and likely isn’t. When we are honest, we open ourselves up more to the possibility of being rejected. Personally, I like to think of myself as “open book”, but this isn’t always the case. There are things in my life that I cannot share with everyone, and as I mentioned before, I think this is fine. There are rooms within us that must remain locked until someone comes along and makes their way before their entrances, and even if they knock, we should still consider their motivations in light of the contents behind those doors.
In summary, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s good to be honest, but the greater the vulnerability shared, the higher the price paid. Sharing personal information with someone is earned—there are things that we should keep to ourselves.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.