It is a known fact of dogdom that our canine companions “act up” for company in ways that they do not when they are alone with their owners. Normally placid beasts become rambunctious – they bark, jump, shove their noses where noses are decidedly not welcome, and make a general nuisance of themselves. “Oh he’s just showing off,” I have heard many a human say.
Well, humans do the same thing (maybe not the noses). Having company over brings a different side of us out into the open, and sometimes makes us bury our more unsavory habits out of sight for the evening. We mind our manners, and are more engaging and forgiving conversationalists. That’s one reason why it’s a good idea to invite people over once in a while – to remind ourselves of what it’s like to be on our best, or at least our better behavior.
Living this “public” life for 11 months has been an interesting exercise. To some degree, having a blog is a little bit like entertaining company. We put ourselves into a public space, and edit our words and our behavior accordingly. It is one aspect of this yearlong blog that I have only recently come to realize. Unlike personal journal writing, blog posts mean taking the trouble to edit one’s thoughts about life for public consumption. It is a helpful exercise. Alone with your thoughts, you can brood and fester in your own private moods until they consume you. Airing our thoughts makes us sort them out, and get them at least a little untangled.
Anna Quindlen, my favorite columnist, used the phrase "Living Out Loud." That says it well, I think.
We are credulous beings, heavily influenced by what we see and hear and take in, even from our own mouths and keyboards. So if what we see and hear from ourselves is perpetually unedited, we just might believe things are as bad or confused as we think.
When we work to put a better face on things – present our selves in a more positive light – we create a better self to believe in. After all, a lot of life is about making the best of things, and if creating a public self in its best image makes you believe you’re better, than maybe you will be.
This may sound like we’re all big phonies, hiding our true selves, but that’s not what I think is happening. Every one of us is good and bad, bright and dark. The goal of living well is to continually cultivate what is good in us, and try our best to overshadow the bad. In the semi-public forum of a blog we are encouraged to cultivate clarity and what is best in ourselves – not phony, just well edited.