I guess I probably knew this would happen. A few of my yoga classmates saw my blog post the other day and contacted me about it. Some wanted to explain better why they were upset or to dispute some of the inflammatory language in my post (language that had bothered me too and that I’ve now removed). One person voiced a concern that a personal conversation was now in a public forum – she had thought our yoga class was a safe space and didn’t want to worry about saying personal things and having them be published online.
My first thought was that I’d never take someone else’s own personal story and use it here without permission. But haven’t I done that already? In these two past posts, for example, I summarize information about people I know. But in those contexts, I was using that person’s example to demonstrate a positive quality, telling how much I admire that person – I wouldn’t use someone’s story for anything negative. Except that I kind of did already, this week, in that post. True, I didn’t name any names, I omitted many details, I didn’t quote anything directly. I tried to describe the conversation in the most general way possible and then move on to my reaction to it, which was the purpose of the post, but I still used that conversation. And maybe I shouldn’t have.
N & J told us during our first teacher training session that this would be a safe space for us to share anything we needed to. I never worried before about violating that space because it was only my own experience I was writing about: this blog was intended as a way for me to explore the topics we discuss in class and deepen my understanding. But once I start to pull my classmates into the blog, that changes things. My friends and family outside of yoga know me, love me, and choose to hang out with me anyway, knowing that they could find themselves in a book someday, but my yoga classmates didn’t sign up for that. They’re just here to do yoga and learn.
As a writer, I make the decision to violate my own privacy all the time, but it’s my choice what to share and what I keep private. When I write about others, they don’t get that choice. So now, while I’m not going to delete the previous post, I’m also going to make a real effort not to blog my classmates’ experience again, or at least not without express permission, and if I ever do get a chance to turn this blog into a book, the same holds true. They deserve to learn in the safe space they signed up for. As a writer, I don’t want to limit myself, but as a yogi, I need to treat others with compassion. Finding a balance between the two is something I need to learn to negotiate.