Used to carry a notebook everywhere, couldn’t help jotting down this or that–what I was learning, questions, things that struck me as incongruous, or profound, or hilarious. Before that it was a bank page sketchbook so I could combine scribblings of the ear shapes of strangers, or the profile of a speaker at the podium or a guitarist on stage. alongside prose or quotes or whatever. Ideas were headed as such, comments in square brackets. Am I becoming numb, that I don’t feel that desire to process much? Used to feel I was invisible to all, free to be the fly on the wall, historian of human nature and collector of insights.That freed me to take notes or sketch in any old bus station or or church sanctuary.
Now, I’m afraid of, what? That someone might know who I am, that I’m breaching confidentiality norms, that it will all come back to bite me. A few comments in letters to the editor would be out there forever tagged with my name, in case it ever became necessary to check up on my views–right or left? pro or con?–and personality–cooperative or critical? conformist or creative?
I just read a post on Diane Ravitch’s blog from a charter school teacher who has felt for years that she has to write anonymously about her problems with the system, because when you tell the truth, some people have the power to ruin your lives, you know? I’m realizing I’m not so brave, or that my flashes of daring later seem like impulsive, ego-driven stupidity. Don’t know if the stuff inside me that I want to express, to push for, is important enough, or that in going for things I might be creating hassles for others who don’t deserve them. That idea that grass is for bare feet to walk on despite the rules comes back as regret at having worn it down so now the groundskeeper is getting heck, and what was I thinking?
I hope it’s just a matter of working smarter. There’s a reason for all those books about how to create change–because it’s worth it, and it’s hazardous. That tension is a sight of opportunity to grow, and as I just wrote in my job application addendum, that’s a good sign.