The Kindest Mirror

When you are the Editor-in-Chief of an online magazine, and when your face is on the front cover of that magazine, and your voice and music begins and ends the magazine’s interviews, and you write a column every day for this magazine, it can often feel as if you already have a website. In fact, I do not, and so I have recently set about the business of making one. I love to help people, I love to encourage people, I love to write things that people read and are helped and encouraged by, but when it comes to ringing my own bell, I get a little squeamish. And yet that is exactly how I began, listing all the “bestselling and award-winning authors” I’d interviewed, dropping as many names as I could, referring to myself in the third person, and generally trying to make it sound as though the entire publishing industry depended on my voice and words to continue lurching forward. I hated it. It was precisely the sort of website from which I would have extracted whatever information I needed and then immediately vacated before I was sold a used car. My wife rolled her eyes when I told her my plight and said, “Just make it like one of your blogs.”

Which is to say, even my own website shouldn’t be about me. It was like the game my wife, my youngest son and I played last night. We took turns trying to make each other laugh. I took a minimalist approach. I got the idea I could make them laugh without saying or doing anything. It worked. I would just look at them until they laughed. “How did you do that?” my wife asked.

At first, I wasn’t sure. But I understood this morning. I didn’t make them laugh. In fact, the moment I tried to make them laugh I couldn’t. Rather, I let them make me laugh. I looked at them until I found them funny. Once I found them funny, they laughed. They weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing at themselves.

Wouldn’t that be the perfect website? A website where the reader arrives to learn about you and leaves knowing themselves a little better. Now that’s a website I’d visit more than once. The kindest mirror in the world—one that reminds you of something close you’ve forgotten and something distant you can reach.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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