Monday, January 20, 2014

The Thin Line Between Public and Private

I've started this four times.  Each time a good idea was rattling around in my mind, but I had a hard time converting the idea into something that was public-friendly.  Going on a long drive makes you think about things and this weekend was no exception.  Driving back, I took the slightly longer, less shell-crater scarred path back to my house.  An extra 30 minutes is worth not seeing if you can rip the axle out of your car and sometimes, seeing places you haven't been in years is mentally refreshing.

But with some of these thoughts, it is hard to turn it into something I would willingly share with a stranger or even in some cases, people I knew without the right context.  The written word is very powerful, but on its own, it can create an illusion about a situation or a person which has the potential to be damaging. 

For example, I realized which day I would want a chance at either reliving or influencing, but to explain it would require an intimate knowledge of people I haven't spoken to in at least a decade and I ended up down a rabbit hole as to whether I could make the day better and what the impact of the day on my life and psyche was.  The short answer is yes, I know what one moment I would want to change, but think I would have a hard time riding the luck I did that day to get to that point if I tried to relive it. 

Oddly enough, we all have our set piece stories, which we tell people.  Most people do it casually, knowing which stories say something about them or get a good reaction from people.  My set stories are big, not because the events are big, but because the stories take on a life of their own.  They don't stray from the facts, but the telling moves from casual to bombastic.  Thinking back on the day, it is one of those stories which should be a big set piece, a core part of my repertoire. 

The day in question involves something of a life event, well, as life event as college gets, a familiar cast of characters, a protagonist with strong motives, an improbable chain of events, backstory which can be referred to make the moment bigger, someone getting cut down to size, a huge payoff to end the story and a sad coda involving bagels.  Yet, I seldom re-tell the story, not because your faithful narrator fails, unlike how fiction teaches us life goes, but I seldom tell the story, because the failure that comes from it supports a narrative about myself I hate. 

I think after it happened, I dwelt on the day for about three months, mixing in some of the happiness that was Dresdened by the close, but mostly focusing on seeing that finish line and it getting moved miles away, taking the redemption I often dreamed of.  In fact, I even have a hard time telling another story around that time period, because it just crowds the rest of the picture out. 

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