Subterranean Man


I have the secret identity part of being a superhero down. If I could skip the powers, beg out of rescuing anyone in serious trouble, and double up on mild-mannered alter-egos, I would be ready to leap immediately into action—or, rather, discreet inaction.

Blogging splits me into two people. During the week I am a dutiful employee struggling to fell his to-do list, and on the weekends I am an equally dutiful blogger hoping to write something redeeming. My work week self wants nothing more than to do his job quietly well, demonstrating his worth without calling attention to it. My weekend self wants exercise, an active mind and imagination. He wants to fly in ways impossible outside WordPress.

It’s a subterranean life, knowing you have this other self awaiting release, and sometimes it’s odd to look around and think about what people don’t know about you.

Though I try to be selective about revealing myself, telling coworkers about my blog sometimes feels as if I am reaching into my backpack, flashing a fold of red unitard, and whispering, “I’m secretly a blogger.” Some people seem sympathetic. Others smile stiffly and say, “Oh really?”

And if colleagues are reading this blog, perhaps they feel as though they’ve seen me in that unitard. They don’t talk about it.

Which I understand…and don’t mind. I’m flush with the excitement of writing regularly and enjoying the possibility of any audience, even an audience googling “red unitard.”

If you’re really going to write, you can’t worry about who sees you.

In my previous blogging incarnation, I was Joe Felso. I literally had a secret identity. But, as any superhero would tell you, the fake name was only a means to keep two lives separate and to be resolute in both. As Joe Felso, I didn’t fear bullets, speeding locomotives, or threats to my livelihood from bosses investigating my activities outside work.

I’m not so protected now but ready to defend what I do here. A friend lamented once, “Why can’t I just see work as a j-o-b for m-o-n-e-y?” But my avocations sometimes save my vocations. Even when I’m continually cowed by requests and commands at work, I still have a domain where I can explore the speculations I push aside all day. If work isn’t the sole repository of my worth, I can act calmly, creatively, productively. While I don’t want a j-o-b where I put in the time and leave, I like having something outside work too. I like being committed to what I do, but perspective is important too.

Carrying the secret that you’ve written something over the weekend isn’t so terrible either. A subterranean life isn’t so bad.

So I spend much too much time here, trying on the guises that might magically transform me—without chemical accidents, radiation, or extraterrestrial visitations—into something greater than my usual self.


1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Essays, Home Life, Identity, life, Modern Life, Survival, Thoughts, Work

One response to “Subterranean Man

  1. being a blogger around non-blogging people does splits the identity into two. and you’ve described it perfectly. it happens with me too, when i can’t share things i write with people around me, and those are the things which matter most, more the daily run-of-the-mill things which happen with everybody.
    but there is a sense that you’re doing something different, exploring deep into your own cave, something which people around are completely unaware about, in terms of its importance. yes, subterranean life is not so bad 🙂

    And the best part is that all of that writing adds up. When I talk to students about writing, I see it’s mostly inexperience that holds them back. They haven’t gathered the time necessary to play with words, rearrange them, seek a new one, find a new way of phrasing a familiar idea. The curious element of blogging–and perhaps the most covert–is its capacity to enrich the non-blogging hours, to change your interaction with life. It’s tough to think of something to say sometimes–you wrote about that recently–but the true subject matter is always thinking, sorting through some question in some way.

    Thanks for visiting. –D

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