Although we don’t all live in the public eye, I think we all have private and public lives, even many different lives that we show to different publics. There’s the ‘game face’ shown at work. There’s the life shared to different degrees with outer and inner circles of neighbors and friends. There’s the many roles we play in families: child, sibling, spouse, parent, grandparent, to name but a few.

Distance and tension easily creep in between our public and private selves. We edit the life we display on social media. We may hide aspects of our lives from a difficult employer or member of the family. The face we acknowledge in the mirror may not even be our most private self, if we cannot accept ourselves, warts and all.

Balancing our many lives can feel like a circus act, like a juggler racing to keep all the plates spinning or all the balls in the air. More helpful, I think, is the metaphor of harmony, among colors in a painting or notes in a piece of music. The challenge of harmony is not to accept some of my lives and reject others, but to find a place for all, however bold, shadowy, discordant or clear.

BJ Brown
October, 2014

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