I often struggle with how much information about one’s personal life should be shared with others. What is the limit on information we should give people about ourselves? How much of what we might divulge about ourselves could be deemed inappropriate?
Over the years, more like decades, I’ve noticed a trend towards people promulgating their personal affairs to the world (i.e. blogging, tweeting, texting, face booking, etc.). what I’m noticing is that the majority of us, without exception, tend to divulge only personal information which we’ve thoroughly screened first; you know, edited out the no-too-flattering details that make us appear less than perfect.
I seemed to have been born in the era of, “Me, me, me… look at me!”
Before you say it, I know, yes… me, a storyteller and performance artist, talking about seeking attention. How ironic right?
Let’s just ignore that little fact for the moment if you don’t mind (Big Smile).
Here’s an idea I’m tossing around in my mind. What if we “all” were to not filter any information that we choose to tell others about ourselves? What if we simply had an all or nothing policy when it came to talking about ourselves with others?
Personally I think there would be a lot less talking in the world and a whole lot more listening.
Let me throw caution to the wind and just give you an example of what I’m talking about.
A few days ago I arrived in São Paulo Brazil. It was a little late in the evening, I hadn’t eaten much, I was tired… you know the situation right?
Confession: My patience grows thin and I tend to get a bit snarky when I’m tired or hungry. I think this is a hold over from childhood that hasn’t quite released its grasp on me yet.
It is a flaw in my characters that I am aware of and working on. As I am always saying, “I am under construction.”
Well we arrived at our hotel and, because I was tired and a little hungry, I began looking around for things to complain about.
Wow, this truth telling thing isn’t easy!
Anyway, I’m searching the lobby, the staff, everything, everywhere for something to complain about. The first thing I am able to grab ahold of is that the entire staff look like teenagers. I have raised teenagers and I would choose not to be placed in their care if at all possible. I love them yes, but I’m not quite sure I want to trust them with my well-being. Finally I had something to grasp and fume about (slim but available none the less).
Weren’t there any older people still working in the hospitality industry? Had they all been laid off and replaced by low wage workers? I wasn’t liking this hotel already!
Ah a second thing to raise my level of irritation! They were all wearing yellow sweat shirts. Yellow sweat shirts! What kind of a hotel uniforms its staff in yellow sweat shirts?
Alright bear with me here, I’m not looking too good in this scenario. In fact I’m appearing downright ugly but I’m going to continue because the truth needs to be told.
I must have found, at least, 10 things to complain about before being given the key to my room.
Yes I’m flawed and I am aware of it. I am, after all, under construction.
My mind kicked into overdrive with things to bemoan or complain about. I reached an all-time low when I began to have an attitude with the elevator buttons. Stupid elevator buttons! I don’t like this hotels elevator buttons!
When I exited the elevator, turned down the hall and entered my room I discovered it to be a veritable treasure trove of issues for me to complain about. I had hit the jackpot. I was about to become the mayor of “Complaintville (a small town just south of the City of Impatience).
My mind raced with a list of inadequacies about the room. I needed something. I didn’t know quite what, but I needed something. And then it hit me. I needed an issue worth calling the front desk to complain about. I searched the room and found it. There was no remote-control for the television. Someone had stolen it obviously.
I picked up the phone, attached to the wall next to my bed. Well they had done one thing right, the phone was easily accessible. I punched in “0” to get the front desk. Nothing. No sound, no dial tone… nothing! Ah ha another thing to complain about! I was on a roll.
I kept trying to punch in other numbers, hitting other buttons to see if I could get the phone working. Someone was going to hear my complaints this night and they were going to listen and listen well.
I started to place the phone back in it’s receiver, preparing myself to just take the elevator back down to the lobby in order to register my mountain of complaints. As I was putting the phone back onto the receiver I noticed it was one of those “powered” phones, you know the old type of in-house phones that are more like walkie-talkies than actual telephones?
Incredible! I couldn’t believe it!
I pushed the power button on the phone and, you’re not going to believe this.
The television came on.
I held the phone away from my ear and examined it a little closer.
Low and behold it wasn’t a phone, it was the remote control for the television.
I had been trying to dial a remote control. This never would have happened in the rotary phone era. Back then, a phone was a phone, a huge clunky thing that could be used for smashing walnuts.
Even though I was tired, a bit hungry, my self-imposed state of irritation began to dissipate as I laughed aloud.
Sitting in my hotel room, on the bed holding the television’s remote control in my hand I couldn’t help but to laugh and smile while noticing the source of all of my angst. What was the source of all of my irritations? Me!
As I was sitting there on the bed thinking, I realized that none of the issues I had “chosen” as irritants (yellow t-shirts, age of staff, elevator buttons, inoperative telephone, etc.) possessed any real merit. There was nothing worthy of the negativity “I” had immersed myself in.
The irritation, angst, impatience and negativity were all self imposed, creations of my own thought processes that were only discomforting me physically and no one else around me. In fact, I can honestly say that no one else was even aware of my state. I hadn’t had the opportunity to infect others yet with my, potentially, nonsensical behavior. I was the designer of the scheme placing myself in dis-ease with my surroundings and those around me.
There is an old African proverb I say to myself in times like these, “An angry heart devours its owner.”
In no other instance was this more true than now.
I could have kept this little tale to myself, after all, there was no one in the room but me when I sat there fuming and looking irritatingly at the inoperable phone.
My job though, as a teller of tales, a traveler and seeker, isn’t to become the best self-promoting publicist in the industry. My job is to grow as a human being and, being as flawed as most of us are, to share invaluable lessons that help, hopefully, make each one of us better people.
I know that some of my true-to-life tales don’t cast me in the most complimentary light but who am I to hide the truth of myself from others? Maybe it will make me a better teacher, storyteller, if I can continue to learn from my own foibles. Maybe it will make me a better teacher, storyteller, if others can learn from my errors.
Don’t forget, I’m under construction.