This is an edited version of a post I wrote.You may know me as “Curious Servant.” It is a name I chose for myself when I first started blogging. I was afraid of letting those in the wide world of the World Wide Web know my true identity.
As if there is such a thing.
The name on my birth certificate, driver’s license, and sundry other documents is William David Greenleaf. When I was little I was “Bill." That lasted until my mid 20s when I shed that appellation for Will, thinking it was a better, stronger, more positive name.
To my students I am Mr. Greenleaf, a name that sums up my identity as a teacher, someone who does not exist outside of the school building (a fallacy which frequently brings shocked recognition at the grocery store or the library).
These names conceal more than they reveal. They provide me superficial identities for various situations. None of them are the true me.
A closer version of who I am comes out when I am with close friends, sharing hidden truths. My Moon Howlin’ buddies gather about once a month to sit around a camp fire and talk about anything that comes to mind, from family to faith, jokes to jobs, music to musings, fears to foolishness. We haven’t gotten together this summer. We need to do that. I need to do that.
There is the identity I have with my wife. It is a truer part of who I am, but still somewhat of a mask, an identity of being sure when I’m not, a touch of bravado, a touch of arrogance, a touch of the petulant child. Still, there is little that I can hide from her that she does not know after living for more than a quarter of a century with me.
I think people fall into roles they play for certain people. A common interest, a common joke, and the interactions tend to repeat. There are people I speak to about science, people I speak to about faith. There are those I talk politics with and others environmentalism.
Perhaps that is one reason I like to write these posts. Here I can say what I want, though... even here I tend to group everything around certain themes, certain ideas.
But I can tend to my own masks. I can be aware when I am putting on a facade. I can wear the superficial mask of the pleasant teacher when it is needed, and I can set it aside when I am with those I trust.
I can work to remove the masks I wear when I look at myself, telling myself I am who I am not, restoring a bruised ego with self-prescribed empty platitudes. (I have heard it said that there are few things as fragile as the male ego).
So who am I? I suppose I am Curious Servant, the blogger who puts a good face on his struggles and seeks to turn a clever phrase with parallelism and alliteration. I’m Will, the friend of my friends, the husband of Brenda, the father of Jeremiah and Isaac, and of Willy who lives with my King and Master. I suppose a part of me is still Bill, the boy who pretended to be a pirate and a spaceship captain and rode through magical fantasies springing from a childhood mind. I’m also the man who is self-centered and proud of things that are not of my making, or even of my possession, for all I have is merely lent to me (including my marriage).
So what do I do with the masks? They are useful things, politically useful in keeping a job, in being civil and civilized. But I should be careful of which ones I wear, and when I wear them.
Most importantly, I can remember to toss all the masks into a heap when I am praying to my King and try to see my life, my physical body, my mind, my eternal soul, the way He sees them and live up up to the great love He offers me, despite what I strap to this human visage.