"The Fantastic Self" cover illustration for The Fantastic Self: Essays on the Subject of the Self.
Having whirled around the world (or just the ‘whirled’ as India Flint beautifully calls it) via the web, discussing the ‘Imagined Village’ of interconnected blogs (or ‘Windlings’ as Jane Yolen suggested!), a comment by Shane Odom on Terri Windling’s post started me thinking about the inhabitants of this aether village we are creating. Shane said this:
Artists and creatives, we are like shamans, going into our inner spirit worlds to find stories, songs, poems, tales, and images. We bring them back, for the benefit of the village, but while traveling, we must not be disturbed. We also must pay the shaman's price, in complicated emotions and life goals.
I use my Facebook as a blog of sorts, for now. I was a LiveJournal poster until so many left it. It is odd, how often I get folks who idealize my life, perceive it to be a dream. They use that exact term, which is of course a part of the language of the shaman. However, their perspective of it is so far and near to the truth at the same time. Oddly, I tell folks that what I share is all Faerie Glamour. It's stardust, and moonbeams, and if I showed you too much it would be dried leaves and old bits of acorns and moss. It seems like I am giving so much, but I am really keeping the best for me.I’ve been thinking about this, that readers may perceive the lives of their favourite bloggers as something far more wonderful and exotic than it really is, more than their own. Because I know I do this myself, read blogs of adventures in far-off places and think ‘oh, what a wonderful life that person leads, I want to be like them.’ And it has gradually dawned on me, reading the comments that readers leave on my blog, that there are people who think that about me...and quite often, they’re the same people I’m reading. An interesting case of ‘the grass is always greener’ perhaps? Whether we are consciously creating an online ‘persona’ or not, we still choose what to show and what not to show. We decide what we think our readers will find interesting, and leave the boring bits out. We choose when to post and when not to. We post about what we think is important. Mostly, I don’t post about the things that get me down, or make me sad. But I do have things that make me feel that way, just as everyone does. Perhaps what I’m doing when I blog is trying to pin down my own sense of myself, who I am and who I want to be. What I want to be doing and what’s important to me. I’m still a work in progress, and so I usually show the best bits, the bits I’m proud of or happy about, maybe the bits of me that I feel are more ‘finished’, or more polished. I generally leave the messy and untidy and disorganised bits out. So I suppose I am creating a world of faerie glamour, as Shane says. Creating a little corner of magic in the vast web, which does, and also does not, reflect my real life. My life through magical, rose-coloured glasses. Or maybe I’m weaving a spell, and if I weave this ‘magical life’ convincingly enough here, in the 'imagined' village, then it may just begin to bleed into my real world, and become my real life. Perhaps I am weaving myself anew. If nothing else, reading back over the posts I have written in the last year allows me to see the path behind me, the small white stones I've dropped on my way from there to here, and if I know where I’ve come from, it is easier to see where I’m headed, which direction I want to go, and what’s important to me. So, I am web-spinning, creating a ‘Christina’ who looks more like the one I’d like to be. Perhaps when she is finished, I can, like a butterfly, shrug off my old caterpillar self and step into this new thing I have made. Or perhaps that’s part of the faerie glamour too, the belief that we can transform ourselves just by whispering our dream into the aether where others might hear it. Because if someone else can hear it too, it must be real.