A question of privacy

Somewhere between what my mind dwells on and what the world reads lies the grey area of privacy.

When I started this blog, I was the only reader and I was happy for it to be a personal space of documenting my personal journey towards my personal God. Somewhere along the way, the subscribers grew, my work took me into a very public domain and my personal life attached me to someone in an even more public domain than me. Now, suddenly, I am perched on a tightrope above ragged, snowy peaks: How much do I reveal and how much do I keep private?

This thought blanked out all others all of last night and in the wee hours of the morning. I cannot write about my workplace because my colleagues read this blog. I cannot write about my partner because his friends now read it. I cannot write about my kids without first having it okayed by them, they insist. The only things I can write about without censorship issues are then the dogs and the books I read.

But I am not only about the dogs and the books I read. I am the sum total, and more, of all the beings, moments and spaces in my life. I am a product of my experiences, memories, thoughts, feelings — which necessarily includes the people most important to me. I cannot boycott all mention of them in a space that I call a spiritual journey. It is not honest, and it is not me.

And yet, to be fair to them, they didn’t ask for this blatant broadcast of their intimate moments with me. My blog is not their choice.

As I write this, I am reminded of my teenage years when I used to write humorous columns about my mom, dad and brother in the local newspaper’s teen section in Abu Dhabi. I was doing then what I’m doing now — drawing on the important characters in my life as fodder for my writing, using anecdotes from my personal life as the script of my public one. When I come to think of it, they didn’t mind. My parents just smiled wryly and got over it. My brother didn’t even read them.

So now, as I walk the tightrope over personal and public spaces, over privacy and expression, I must first sort out in my own head what is more important here: The need to maintain a certain ‘image’ in the material world, or the need to document my pilgrimage through this lifetime and perhaps spark a seed of change in at least one heart out there.

At an IIM-A workshop I once attended, we were taught, ‘When there is clarity about who  you are, there is no doubt about what you have to do.’ (I don’t remember the exact words but that was the message.) It had struck me then, as it strikes me now, that any decision to act cannot be based on ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and ‘what people think’ but on what ‘I am’. That is not only the past of least resistance but it is also what, I have come to believe, we are meant to do in this world.

The answer then is obvious, isn’t it. I am now going to gingerly step off this tightrope, and continue to sky dive. Those who matter won’t mind. Those who mind don’t matter. 🙂


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