Jewish Journal

I’m Not Telling You

by Susan Esther Barnes

October 9, 2013 | 1:00 am

Image from Wikimedia

Pretty much every day, usually more than once a day, I ask myself, “What am I going to write about in my next blog post?” Sometimes, people ask me what I’m planning to write over the next few weeks, as if such a plan has ever existed in my life as a blogger. Sometimes, I’m worried I’ll never come up with anything interesting to write about again. Yet, every week, something seems to present itself.

And then, sometimes, what seems like a perfect story unexpectedly appears out of the ether. It’s a story with drama; it has a beginning, a middle, and an end; it includes moments of humor; it even presents a few displays of human kindness.

Such a story appeared this week. And I can’t tell it to you.

As a human being, over the last decade or two I have practiced being more open and revealing about myself. I continued to do that through my writing, and made my inner thoughts and feelings even more public when I started blogging a few years ago. It’s been quite a positive experience for me, and I highly encourage others to reveal their true selves and to say what they mean whenever feasible.

However, most people desire some degree of privacy. Not everyone wants every little detail of their lives splashed across the internet, for all to see, in perpetuity. I get that. And, while authenticity and self-disclosure are important to me, it is also important to me that the people around me know they can trust me not to share or – God forbid – publish what they would like to keep secret.

It does present a bit of a problem for me, since I can be a bit obsessive about my writing. When a story “wants” to be written, it won’t leave me alone. It keeps swirling around in my head, presenting phrases and even paragraphs, refusing to quiet down until I release it into a Word document or onto a piece of paper. It can be quite disruptive, interrupting me whenever I’m trying to think about something else.

I’m hoping that writing this piece will settle this particular story in my mind. If not, I may need to write it down even though I don’t intend to share it with anyone. But, no matter what happens, I’m sorry to say, I won’t be telling it to you.

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Susan Esther Barnes is a religious Reform Jew who can regularly be seen greeting people at her synagogue before services. She is a founding member of her synagogue’s chevra...

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