If you have read this blog for any length of time you know more about me than many people who have known me (in my fleshly manifestation) for many years.
Yet they will know many things about me that are lost in the translation to the blogosphere, dry skin, long fingers, blue eyes, mild scoliosis, ever-encroaching baldness, a tendency to talk way too fast.
I am more open here because most of you don’t know who I am, what my status is in the community, who my family is. You don’t have any preconceived ideas about how I should act or what I should write. I get to start with a clean slate. It may be that I have crafted the persona I want you to see. There is much on this blog about Orthodoxy, yet most of the people I interact with every day would not be familiar. I’m not sure if this is a comment about how much I want you to think I am pious or about how incompletely I live my faith among those around me. Maybe I am crafting what I want to be, or who I wish to be.
I suppose that we are all in a very real ways several different people. Not a split personality but adaptations to different situations and relationships. I am certainly not the same person to my seven-year-old daughter as I am to one of the reporters with whom I frequently interact or to the waitress at my favorite restaurant. The first probably sees me as larger than life and all-knowing, the second as kind of shifty and the third as fairly generous. These perceptions are all wrong, or at least incomplete.
I perceive myself as a very serious person yet in a recent discussion with my wife about this very topic she used the word silly to describe me (I have realized in recent years that I do joke around with people quite a bit). I believe that anyone reading this blog would find it a stretch to call me silly, yet indeed I am.
Sometimes the “real” world and the blogosphere collide in unexpected ways. This week I was at a high school basketball game with my daughter when we were approached by a very respectable looking young man. He had read this blog and suspected that I was the ghost in the machine. It’s a complex story, but basically he wanted to tell me how much he liked the writing here on NIMS. He was more than generous and I was of course flattered, but even more it was this roundabout way of meeting that intrigued me. I believe he found this blog by reading this blog which is the stomping ground of a friend of mine. The young man who approached me has his own blog. He gave up a very promising secular career to go into ministry. We all live in the same community, we are all members of different faith persuasions yet we found common ground here.
I also realize that the mental image I have of the authors of the blogs I read is very different from reality (whatever that is). One example is this blog. Reading it you would never realize how bright and funny Fr. Frank is in real life or how well known and respected he is in our community (maybe he doesn’t even know). He is very adept at using technology to assist him in his ministry, but the real joy is meeting him face to face.
Blogs are a wonderful way to let hack writers like myself speak our minds. But they are at best just that, tools, vehicles for an always incomplete expression of an idea or a person. They let us be who we want to be, not necessarily who we are.