Going Public. Just how personal and intimate?

by Amanda Harding

 i've clearly been drifting. No blog post for days. And now a wake up call the ephemeral nature of this tool - a careless "confirm" and its gone. I've been at this for hours ... What remains in my head is a host of unconnected words, some conviction that the earlier version of today's musings was utterly brilliant, complete conviction that I'm technically challenged and acceptance that this will be a post with no fancy images. Amazing how temporary my capacity really is.

Now the mind is really focused. No more back-to-school post holidays sludge. No more, the month's sabbatical was always going to be an ideal only to be swept away by the first request to finish, comment, add, edit, initiative, contribute … No more easily flattering as the work is so very very important and there I am genuinely affirming my willingness to pick up the bits and pieces left over from 2013.

The subject at hand. How personal should/can I allow myself to be in the public conversation? How intimate without crossing over to the embarrassing and self-indulgent? Do I bear my soul? Do I stay on the side of journalistic seduction but keep a safe distance from the inner-conundrums of self-obsessed change artist?

We've been telling stories for centuries. Across cultures and continents, across religions and regimes, across peoples and personalities. The best stories soften us up, pulling us into the mixing bowl of emotions, relying on our sense of universal morality, love of suspense, surprise at love and finally, out of no-where, hitting us with the big message that resonates beyond the personal and brings us vibrant values, philosophical clarity, ethical extremism, political punches. We take on some, leave others but continue to lap up the stories.

Treading the line between the introspective naval gazing inappropriately laid out in public and the personal experience that sheds light on wider, deeper and innovative thinking is terribly tricky.

Just recently I was extremely privileged to spend a week in South Africa with a  group of astonishing and wonderful people from across the region brought together as experts on political reform moving from exclusion to inclusion (see here for some insight). Through the week we improvised a dance that had us shifting from the intensely private and personal to the technical ins and outs of constitutional reform and international human rights accountability mechanisms. We sang, mimed and painted our faces, we systematically and rigorously mapped our collective knowledge and documented our strategies. We listened so intently to each other creating elements for change that now depend on both the energy of the individual but also the collective.

I will continue to tell my story. I will try to keep my story true, pertinent, a story that moves through and beyond who I am and what I can be.