This marks the second occasion that GofaDM has used this one poem by Robert Burns: and, this second outing is even referencing the same (and final) verse. This post was inspired by the usual collision of recent events and some unifying juxtaposition: in this case, the line “To see oursels as ithers see us!“.
I am possessed of an age, level of privilege and laziness that means I don’t really adapt my persona very much to different audiences. I am a tad less frivolous at work – though probably tone it down less than people might imagine (or fondly hope) – and I will adapt my content (f not the presentation) to somewhat suit those who have the misfortune to encounter me in the wild (again, this adaptation is much more limited than most would consider desirable). However, having somehow arrived at a semi-viable public face, I really haven’t made the necessary investment to generate an alternative.
On the whole, I don’t spend very much time considering the impression I make in the minds of others. I generally try to be polite (that would be my upbringing) and would not like to be considered thoughtless: though recognise that I will often fail in this latter wish given the all-too-limited scope of my thinking. As I’ve noted before in this blog, I seem to be more memorable than I consider entirely explicable: my relative generous nasal inheritance and height can only explain so much and I otherwise consider myself to be entirely unexceptional. Admittedly, as I have to extrapolate other people (animals, aliens etc) from the contents of my own head, I am doomed to be the least interesting character in my life: though I can still spring a few surprises.
While, I believe, we are all supposed to view ourselves as the hero of our own narrative, I tend to view myself as, at best, a half decent NPC still waiting for the main protagonist(s) to arrive. I am, perhaps, living my life as some sort of Vladimir or Estragon doomed to forever wait for a companion who is maddeningly late and may, conceivably, not arrive until I myself am late…
Several incidents in recent weeks have led me to believe that the “me” that exists in the minds of others can vary markedly from the idiot that I have been sharing my life with for nearly 54 years. They appear to believe in the existence of a far more virtuous and emotionally useful human being sharing my body than I have ever had any reason to believe might exist. Pace Terry Pratchett, I generally assume I have all the empathy of a ‘well aimed half-brick‘ though have come to realise that being physically present and either listening, or providing some form of distraction, can offer a degree of modest utility in the right circumstances.
I fear that most (if not all) of my soi-disant virtue consists in me indulging my general propensity to seek divertissement and any more positive outcome is merely an unintended byproduct…
Cultural events and gigs are generally very successful in replacing the ululating nonsense circulating around the inside of my skull with something more pleasant. Indeed, the last couple of weeks, with its rather short commons in this area, have on a couple of occasions forced me to spend an evening in: alone! I really don’t understand how people manage to do this on a regular basis: I would very rapidly need to be sectioned. (It is worth noting at this stage that I would be a terrible flatmate: I have lived alone for far too long!) (N)YTMG – at least in its initial very basic form – was a natural outgrowth of my regular gig going. It now acts as a very handy tool for me in planning my life (to the extent that this occurs) and I hope encourages and/or helps others to attend more gigs, thus increasing the likelihood of future gigs and so delaying the day when, for lack of any alternative entertainment, I find myself running (probably walking briskly or cycling, if I’m being honest with myself) amok with an 8.25″ cook’s knife.
Other humans are also a source of fascination and their skulls tend to be filled with rather different nonsense than my own. For a relatively small investment of polite interest, many are willing to share at least some of this content with a third party, viz me. Over time, this leads to some of them becoming friends which seems to increase their willingness to share their nonsense and, even better, join me in the creation of new nonsense. My fond hope when starting this blog, nearly a decade ago, was that it would become a way to generate new foolishness through interaction with other people. That hasn’t really happened, but going into the real world and as a result meeting and interacting with other people in the flesh has proven far more successful: who’d have guessed? (Probably most people, certainly those with any knowledge of human evolutionary biology or anthropology.)
I find myself trying to maintain functional acquaintance with a volume of people which now safely exceeds Dunbar’s Number. This is enormous fun, though quite the challenge for my middle-aged brain. Luckily, you almost never need to refer to anyone by their name – and never in their presence – and so the fact that it may not be readily accessible to me is far less of an issue than might be imagined. All of these people – and more besides who I don’t yet know but who seem to know me (or who I have unforgivably forgotten) – have some impression of ‘me’ which I imagine has at least some connection to the ‘me’ that I project, with some vague intentionality, into the world but is mostly their own invention. All these impressions will be different and none are likely to be terribly representative of the ‘real me’: even assuming that such a thing can be considered to exist. Given the odd (to me, inexplicable) positivity with which people generally seem to respond to my presence, I am forced to assume that their versions of ‘me’ are a significant upgrade to my own.
Were I the sort of man to make resolutions, and were I the even more insane type who would choose to do so in the depths of winter, I might plan to be more like the much better ‘me’ that other people see (or confabulate). Sadly (or happily) I’m neither of these people. However, inspired by having now listened to 70% of the available episodes of the quite excellent How Do You Cope with Elis and John, I have arrived at the rather nebulous thought that I ought to take better (by which I mean some) care of my mental health. Given my progress with other major projects, I think we can all expect to see some real fruits arising from this thought at some point in my mid-70s: at around roughly the same time that my own personal Godot forcibly enters my life via the medium of a high velocity bullet to my grey matter…