Thursday, March 6, 2014

A blog about blogging

A couple of weeks ago while we were in Beijing I had a really hard moment.  Emotions were running high and the tears were flowing.  I retreated to my room because that's what I do.  In my moments of greatest stress I retreat into myself. 

And I worked my way out of myself and out of the room by writing. 

That's another thing I do in my moments of greatest stress.

By writing about what was happening, I was able to see that event for what it really was.  I was able to see my role in things.  I was able to see my way out. 

The result was a post that some of you might have seen.  It was on my blog for a few hours.  I had a conclusion in the blog and I thought it was a positive one, but I went through some prickly places on the way to the conclusion. 

The trouble is, someone in my life who is important to me saw only the prickly places and not the positive conclusion.  And it hurt him.  And he let me know.

It gave me pause.  The Downtown Diner is my restaurant.  I get to cook whatever I want here.  If someone doesn't like the food they don't have to eat here. 

And yet, I had posted something that hurt someone.  And I wasn't sure how I felt about that.  I wasn't sure if it's more important to me to express myself freely on my blog, or if I have an obligation to be respectful of people here. 

Am I free to write whatever I want as long as it is healing to me, even if it in turn hurts someone else?

Again, the Downtown Diner is my restaurant, so I have to make this decision. 

So, I took the post down.  Because I want the Diner to be a place where people feel safe and treasured and respected.  I want my heart to be all of that too.

Therapy.  It was therapeutic for me to write it, but posting it to my blog is less important.  That piece of prose can always live as an entry in my journal, or perhaps as a chapter in the book I publish one day.  Under a pseudonym, naturally. 

On a side note, I believe that as we communicate in the digital world we are leaving traces of ourselves that one day our great great great grandchildren will sift through to figure out who we were.  Even the communication that we believe is private today, like our emails and texts and messages on online dating websites - I'm pretty sure our progeny is going to have access to all of that. 

Perhaps we're no different than our ancestors who threw a whiskey bottle down the hole in the outhouse thinking it was gone forever, their little secret.  But now decades later we do archaeological digs on that spot and we unearth the secrets of the past. 


The kids and I found this antique medicine bottle at a construction site in the 12th South area. 

I predict our great grands will do the same thing. 

To assume my descendants will do research about me seems presumptuous, but if they do, I hope they will look at the world I held private and the aspects of it that I put out in public, and see that I was consistently authentic and also that I used good judgment. 

I doubt they will say that I never hurt anyone.  But I hope they will see that any pain I inflicted was unintentional, or that the hurt served a higher purpose and was not just a selfish catharsis. 

I would be honored if they decided to create a space like The Downtown Diner in their lives.  A place where people are honest and real with each other, and yet balance that against being fair and caring and kind with one another. 

That's a legacy I'd be proud of. 





6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog a few years ago and still check in on it every once in a while. I'm always struck by the beauty of your thoughts and the precision with which you express them!

Melanie Gao said...

Wow, that makes my day. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a comment. :)

Anonymous said...
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Manoj Joseph said...

On an unrelated note, happy birthday Melanie! :)

Melanie Gao said...

Manoj! It's so good to see you here! And thank you, it's been a wonderful birthday. :)

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