Tuesday, March 6, 2012


{screenshot from a video by Kinga Burza for Kate Spade}

"You must be joking," he said. "Look around. Think for a moment. It's the middle of the night, not a soul anywhere. In this city, at this time. Not a dog in the gutter. Empty. Except for this elephant -- and you're going to tell your idiot friends about it? Why? Do you think they'll understand it? Do you think it will matter to them? .... You must understand, this is one of those moments."

"What moments?"

"One of those moments you keep to yourself," he said.

- The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht


I finished The Tiger's Wife yesterday, and although the entire book kept me under its spell, it's this passage between grandfather and granddaughter I keep repeating to myself over and over and over again.

There aren't many moments, any more, that we keep to ourselves.

I understand, of course, that I am guilty. I may be without Facebook, but I am editor and writer of this blog, which I post to nearly five times a week. I have Twitter and texting and Pinterest and Instagram. I am easily guilty of oversharing, and I wonder if a little of the magic is lost that way.

Photographers talk sometimes about the rare day they leave the camera at home, just so they can be in the moment instead of capturing it. They want to experience that time and that place without a screen obliterating their view.

I wonder how often, these days, I am guilty of leaving that figurative screen up, of forgetting the experience and the moment in my quest to tell someone about it. When my friends and I sit and talk, I want to be able to have something to say, something new to tell them, something that didn't hit the Internet before it leaves my tongue.

This passage, this practical, powerful scene in the middle of a rather mystical novel, keeps coming back to me because the grandfather is so wise, so right. He has lived those moments, and he knows: Some are just meant for you to experience quietly, breathlessly. Some moments you don't share on the Internet or in whispers at bedtime or with your mother on the phone.

And those moments? There is magic in them. They become weighted with their importance. They become your secret to bear.

We live in a world where no one leaves very much to the imagination: not in the way they dress or in the way they live-tweet political debates or in the sharing of birth stories (complete with pictures!) on Facebook.

I know, by the very fact that I am blogging about this for an audience of almost-strangers, that I am not immune, that I am opinionated and eager to tell the world what I think and see and feel.

But I don't want all of my stories to get out that way. I want some of them to be told in funny moments after dinner, want some to be shared quietly with just my husband, want some things in this life of mine to be a gift between daughter and Father Creator.

I read somewhere once that the greatest power a woman holds is her mystery. That's what makes a woman beautiful and desirable. Not a new lipstick shade or a killer outfit or a fantastic haircut, but a sense that she's keeping some things to herself. Some things, you'll figure out in time -- as some kind of reward, perhaps, for sticking around so long -- but others? Others you may never find out.

And that's okay, isn't it? That we all walk around with a little part of us not ever quite figured out?

We live in a world of over-communication, and some days, I am beside myself grateful for it.

Other days, though, I am grateful for the silence, grateful that I haven't journaled or blogged or tweeted or told that story just yet.

I am grateful that sometimes, I laugh and talk to myself and no one else, and that there just might be a little bit of magic in that.


Erin said...

Oh I love this so much. You are so right.
I have my food blog which I love, but I've also been toying around with the idea of starting a blog in more of a spiritual/personal reflections direction, and this is the question I keep coming back to...how will I know how much to share? How will I be sure I keep my life to myself still?

Cara said...

Now I really really want to read The Tiger's Wife. Thank you so much for sharing this. It's challenged me and I know is going to stick with me for a while now. Thank you.

Lacey said...

what a great excerpt to share. i loved it. its not on my never ending to-read list.

Annie said...

I am so glad you loved The Tiger's Wife! I agree with this post. I love blogging, but there's a part of me that feels good, too, by not blogging just now, by keeping moments with me, rather than thinking about how I'm going to blog about them or tweet about them or instagram them.

Jenny said...

Fabulous thoughts and quote. I'm adding this book to my "to read" list!

Leslie said...

Absolutely!!! I've been wanting to pull back so badly. Withdraw even more than I have and just keep it all to myself. A recent example....Someone made an exact copy of a quilt I made and instead of being really flattered I was completely creeped out that they had MY quilt in their house. I hated it. Made me feel really weird. I'm wanting to share less and less of my life. And I think that is a good thing. (and funny....I keep think about the oversharing of birth a stories dominating blog world when I read this post) I think that is why I detest them so much.....such a private thing. Too beautiful to share. But birth stories aren't the only thing to beautiful to share.