Thursday, January 26, 2012

don't write anything

i have always been a journal-keeper. when i was growing up, i filled notebooks with doodles and kept hardbound books with little locks and keys for my personal thoughts.

i also was a note-passer in school. but i wasn't a rule-breaker. in elementary school, my best friend, Lisa, and i devised a plan to pass notes in a way that wouldn't break any classroom rules. it was a brilliant plan: we write our notes to each other in 1 shared spiral notebook, and pass the notebook back and forth before and after school. all the notes stayed in the notebook - it was just ours and just for our private letters to one another. smart, right?

one day, i accidentally left the notebook in my Mom's minivan. when she picked me up from school that day and the notebook was missing from the backseat where i'd left it, i panicked. it was the same panic as when the teacher catches you passing a note and takes it up to read it aloud in front of the class. possibly worse, since it was my Mom.

i don't remember what was written in the notebook that i was panicked about- probably bad things about teachers and hearts around boys' names. i don't remember getting in trouble for having the notebook or anything i'd written.

i remember the lesson my Mom taught me that day:
"Don't Write Anything You Wouldn't Want The Whole World to Read."
extreme? maybe. but think about it.

especially in this World-Wide-Web of blogging and pinning and tumbling and tweeting and status-updating...the world is reading, or could read at any time.

is what you're writing worth being read? now or ever?

would you panic if _____ read what you wrote?

...your parents?
...your best friend?
...your husband?
...your children?
...your pastor?
...your grandma?

i remind myself every time i write: what if the whole world read this? what if?

sure, a lot of things are private. and yes, the chances of my pastor reading my blog are slim to none. still, the lesson my Mom taught me that day back in 5th grade has stayed with me all these years. it hasn't stopped me from writing. on the contrary, it has made me a more thoughtful writer, with determination to leave something pleasing, uplifting, and thought-provoking for the potential readers.  

What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, 
and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms 
will be proclaimed from the roofs.

my daughter is starting to write her thoughts in her own journals now. she was writing in her little flowery notebook the other day, and when i walked by she slammed it shut, giggling. i smiled at her, looked into her big blue eyes, and said, "remember, don't write anything you wouldn't want the whole world to read."     

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