Young lions on the lam?
Are the signs you hid deep in your heart
All left on neon for them?"--Rickie Lee Jones
One thing I like about weblogs is that entering posts in the privacy of one's own home, it's easy to feel a bit more liberated to enthuse and effuse more than I do, say, at Boston Market (though on second thought, I give a very rousing, heart-on-my-sleeve version of "half chicken, two vegetables, the green ones, please, wheat roll, could I get an extra wheat roll?").
I've always maintained parts of my life cordoned off from view here,
as I feel that my clients and my spouse really don't need my public descriptions of all that much of their lives. When I began, I figured that the "musical comedy quality" I intended to give to journal posts (in my mind, a cross between Rodgers & Hammerstein and PG Wodehouse, only nobody is going to sing "There is Nothing Like a Dame" in my posts) would prove unduly restrictive. In fact, I find that I say far more here on LJ than I do with any but my spouse and very closest real life friends. I wonder at the selfishness inherent in that, because for all the fact that I love my friends' list folks, who are more than kind to me, I do use this journal (and my ridiculous sidejournals) for personal notes, writing exercises and the dreaded "self-exploration" (rather like being with myself, and saying: was that post good for you? yes, it was good for me, too. really.). It's become a kinda personal hangout for me, with me. So I tell myself what I am feeling. It's a bit like the guy in Brideshead Revisted who related all emotions to things he saw in movies or read in books.
But I never appreciated how much I effuse in life until I began seeping emotions in my journal. I think of myself as a person who, though more than a bit emotional and a serious dollop sentimental (and frightening amounts of just sheer mauldin be-here-now-ish), keeps a pretty firm control on emotive expression. I don't cry much in public, or express the sentiment of the Wodehouse character that the stars are God's daisy chain, or anything like that.
Yet I notice since I began keeping a journal that I'm much more willing to directly express an emotion to a friendly acquaintance than I was in past times. I think this is a "plus" of the journal process; a confidence in oneself through self-exploration translating into real life. I've always enjoyed the way that keeping up with what one thinks has an odd way of making one act in conformity with one's values. No wonder the Puritans journaled madly.
I notice, too, though, that the way I deal with work stress reduces my angry moments to a bare minimum. It's a bit daunting to imagine that all my "deep emotions" are just a result of poor scheduling and planning of deadlines. While other folks have rich, intense emotional lives, sometimes I think my own negative emotions come down to not much more than "not good enough" and "should have thought this through better". My positive ones? "Happy". "Content". Sometimes even "rested". Not the stuff of deep complexity.
Yet I am intrigued by the neon nature of the LJ experience. I feel sometimes like a flashing sign--"Walk", "Don't Walk", "Construction Traffic". Sometimes this troubles me, as I see just how flibbertigibbetty my moods can be. But in general, I must admit that I like the idea that people read things about my life that I don't speak about that often outside of my weblog. It's a curious thing, because I believe that my only private post so far was an image I test-posted wrong, but forgot to delete, and I have yet to make a "friends only" post. So anything I say here I have in essence said to anyone in my life who wishes to read. I have a defense, though--there's just too much to wade through for almost anyone. It's a bit like those Pacific sardines whose main defense against sharks is that there are just too many of them to eat.
I think there's a downside to all this, too (I am nothing if not able to see both sides). I find myself extremely intrigued to hear comments on what I consider my most personal posts, and, like virtually every poll respondent to a recent poll I ran, I find that my most "deeply personal" posts get far and away the least response. I compliment myself that I am not comments-obsessed, and post a fair number of things that interest mostly only me. But I notice also the flip side--I do post sometimes to entertain. But I do like musicals to have a sing-along.
With many of my friends (a dozen come to mind in short order), I wish I could understand even more about them than I already think I understand. It's funny, because I am drawn the most to the people whom I feel that I understand the best, and yet those folks are the ones about whom I wish I knew more. This is where the "wish I could have this level of open discussion in a real life setting" comes in, with the inevitable "what things would we say that we don't say in journal". I'd ask so many questions. I'd nod, with comprehension, once I got the answers. I'd probably give an answer or two.
But that's the problem with effusion. Get a small, satisfying dose on LJ, and next thing you know, you want more. It's never enough, is it? Social interaction that works is so intoxicating. When it is great, one wishes only for it to be better. I suspect that Porsche owners sometimes long for Maseratis. In my real life, I drive an old Ford sedan. I only long for 20,000 more miles. But in LiveJournal, sometimes, I dare to dream.
Last night I wondered to myself what I will do when my partner retires. He is nearly a decade older than I am (though, as these curious things work, I have been in practice a year or two longer).
Someday I'm sure he'll opt to retire, in a future much, much less distant than my own retirement. I've so enjoyed our firm that it's hard to picture soldiering on in x years when he does so. Yet somehow LJ, which has encouraged me to write, to record bad music (a negative mark, I suppose), and to dream, makes me start thinking--what would I do, what training would I need? Maybe it would be fun to be something other than an attorney someday. Maybe I could re-invent what being an attorney means, even further than I have already. The past three years of owning my own firm, along with the past 16 months of LJ, teach me that I am much more capable of doing things I did not know I could do than I ever dreamed. The curious thing, though, is that this involves not only trusting myself more, but sometimes changing my definition of what success means. When one lives in the world of daydreams only, one can never do anything, because the definition of success is so unrealistic. I think keeping a weblog helps me define how I want to live a bit better, in a doable day to day way.
I must admit, though, that I never knew my heart would be so visible, or take up so much sleeve, or be so darned colorful. I never really looked at it so closely prior to coming on LJ.