I called my mom last week. Okay, maybe not exactly. I texted her, asking her to call me, and she did (as per our usual arrangement). She told me about all sorts of people that are reading this.
She told me how one of my aunts read my first post to my other aunt.
She told me how she spread and yet around to a number of friends.
She told me how her friend saw her own health in that post.
She told me of the ripples, the light touch, that this space has already spread.
All these moments I caused, but never see.
We all do this- though perhaps even more so in this time of online living.
As much as we project, there is so much that no one ever sees. Dear reader, you don’t see me open this word document. You don’t see it start as a few random thoughts. You don’t see the rapid click-click-click of the delete button. You don’t see the trepidation as I press publish. You don’t see me duck into the kitchen for a cookie (or two). You don’t see the little smile creep onto my face as I see that people have opened this website.
Then I don’t see you, as you open this page. I don’t see if it quickly gets closed- a mistaken click. I don’t see if you leave it in your browser for a few days. I don’t see if you read every word. I don’t see if it stays with you.
Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.
It sounds so negative. This perceived lack, as if you needed to see the awkwardness unfurling as I write. As if I needed to sit over your shoulder and see how my words fell with you.
There is a special freedom with the internet. Unlike an in person interaction, each of us is able to make each step on our own terms. I can pour out these words, re-arrange and adjust each of them, until they are just how I want them to be. I don’t have to share the awkwardness. I can wait exactly as long as I want. I get those moments, as my own. The product is what is sent out. The process belongs to me.
Then the same freedom is awarded to you, dear reader. You can read this, if you happen upon it. You can skim, you can read it over, you can share it, you can forget about it. Those moments will be yours. The moments I never see.
Sometimes, one of you will leave a note, letting me in on an effect of one of those moments. Even then, the moments themselves are still yours. The memories are true instead of stories conveyed. Other times, these moments will be entirely your own, unspoken.
The internet is full of these unseen moments. Be it a status update, an email, a news article, a blog post. Someone is (nearly) always on the other side. Sometimes, they are looking for a response or a sharing of moments. Sometimes they do not want anything. Other times, it is open and equal. As freely as the writer is to post as they wish, the receiver is free to respond. Or not.
Moments shared, moments saved. Moments spent crafting, providing something just so. They all become moments that no one else sees. Your story might breed an image in my mind, creating a moment of my own. It is in the subtle details and the unspoken constants that we form our truths. In the unspoken bits, our lives emerge. I don’t know if I would have it any other way.
The ball is in your court, dear reader, free to stay and free to throw back. Among the moments we’ll never see.
(Top photo of my grandmother, in a decade I never saw. Scanned & cleaned up by mom, in a moment I never saw. Second photo from my phone, in a moment alone in the kitchen at work, admiring the morning light.)