You’d be forgiven for thinking that Lieutenant Columbo died last month. He didn’t die because he never actually lived. He was a fictional character.
Sadly, the world did lose a great actor last month by the name of Peter Falk who was best known for playing the part of Lieutenant Columbo in the TV series Colombo. I remember watching Colombo many years ago and I always knew that no matter how hard they tried to avoid detection, Colombo would always get his man.
Most of the tributes to Peter Falk talked about his character, Colombo, and the line, “just one more thing”, because that’s mostly what we knew of the man. We didn’t actually know Peter Falk at all but we loved his work. If we did a bit of digging we’d find that he was a twice married man who loved chess. He acted in many television shows and an impressive list of movies, including his memorable role as a grand father in The Princess Bride. We could find out a lot about Peter Falk from his entry on Wikipedia or from his Memoir Just One More Thing, but we still wouldn’t really know the man. Last month when Peter Falk died we remembered some of the characters he had played but we weren’t really remembering him, we were remembering another man.
Who Knows Me?
Most of us will never know the fame that Peter Falk knew but I can see parallels with each one of us. People know our public persona, but do they really know us? People that hear me on the radio think that they know me but they only know part of me. Others, like those who read this blog, might get to know a little more of me but certainly not the whole man. As the circles get tighter and tighter, people know more and more about me. Aquaintances, work colleauges, friends, close friends, extended family, immediate family, each group knows me a little better but who really knows me completely?
Do we want to be known?
Sometimes we can fear people fully knowing us. We keep people at arms length because we’re afraid of what might happen if they knew the truth of who we really are. I’m reminded of one of David Bowie’s early songs, Janine, and one of its lines.
Janine, Janine, you’d like to know me well, But I’ve got things inside my head that even I can’t face.
Sometimes we don’t want to be known because we can’t even face the truth of who we are ourselves.
Life in 3D.
I get the sense that others who are looking at each one of us see us as if they’re watching a 3D movie without the 3D glasses. There are several, indistinct images that seem to float around, each one tells a little of our story but none give a really clear picture. The colours aren’t right, the lines seem blurred and everything’s flat. It’s not until someone is given the 3D glasses that all those faint outlines converge to give the true picture. It’s a picture that goes deeper than the flat, blurry images that they’ve seen before. Suddenly they’re allowed to see us as we truly are, with all our greatest attributes, but also, all our faults. That’s scary but it can also be liberating. We need to be careful about who gets to see us through those glasses but it’s a tragedy if we don’t allow anyone to truly know us.
Who really knows you?
So, are there people who know who you really are? Are you allowing people to see and know the inner man or woman that most of the world will never see? Do you give away too much too soon to too many people or do you hold back and just wish that someone, somewhere knew the real you?
Who are you when no one is looking?
I also wonder if we should try to ensure that the person we are in private is a lot more similar to the person we are in public. Of course we will always adapt to different situations and it is right and proper that we behave differently when the occasion calls for it, but if the difference between our private and public identities is due to a lack of integrity in our private lives, maybe now is the time to deal with the issues preventing us from being honest and open with those around us.
Are you ready to let people get to know the real you or will you only allow them to see the character you’re playing?If you enjoyed this post please use the buttons above to share.