A long time ago I thought that my life would be a certain way. I thought that it would be idyllic. That eventually, at that pinned point in my future I would be where everything was exactly as I envisioned it. I remember seeing it. Racing far, far from where I was at the time, and arriving “in that perfect place” being that “perfect person”.
This is a very strong memory. One I remember having often, mostly during my teen-years. When I was trapped inside a prison of confusion and weakness. To this day I remember the feeling of knowing that I would “get there”. The feeling of having “made it”. The feeling of one day being “exactly” whom I had envisioned I would become.
Oddly I have no idea how to define whom I thought I was going to become, or what “my perfect self” would entail. It was like I was envisioning the promise-land version of myself, which of course was completely immaterial. I found solace on many an occasion teleporting into this state of creative visualization. It was like a ZEN moment for me. A place I could travel to that would calm my own expectations and paranoid urgency. It was an exercise in knowing I would eventually manifest into my “ideal self”.
I just needed time. It would all happen then. Not now. Not tomorrow, but eventually.
I don’t remember when I stopped having these mirages of conscious wonder. They stopped at some point. There is no way to articulate as to when. No one really remembers the key turning point when they loose their naivety – maybe because no one looses all of their innocence at once. It just erodes away slowly; depreciating and eroding like a car. When you first buy a new car you can’t imagine it ever being old, nor do you want to. You think it will be new forever.
So where did my idyllic self go? Where is yours? Are you living it? Are you still thinking you will get there one day soon? I just tell myself it was all very fleeting and a symptom of my innocence and youth.
Now, each and every day I wake up with “myself”. We all do, we have no choice, unless you believe in split personality – then maybe you could wake up as someone else. I awoke this morning, like I do every other day I survive through the night. I usually greet my wife in some way, shape or form, and then take a second or two to fulfill my dog’s needs if he has any urgent requests.
After this takes place I wander into the washroom and begin to process myself for the day. I won’t go through the details. The point is I spend a good time in the morning with my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Every day I connect eyes with myself. I access the state of my hair; identify the large bags under my eyes, test the length of my beard, and read my own expression. In most cases I get the same thought every single day, that what I see in mirror actually isn’t me. It’s some stunt-double or ugly stand in that is taking my place until I am fully awake and fully up to speed and “on-line”.
This time I spend in self-observation and pruning takes about fifteen to twenty minutes each morning. Some days I blather out meaningless and pointless phrases. Sometimes directed at my dog, my wife, or imaginary non-present individuals that have somehow crept into my consciousness. It could be as mundane as me repeating a meaningless group of words or a sound over and over like a parrot or someone with Tourette’s syndrome. My guess is that making the experience somewhat odd, comical or peculiar helps me distance myself, from myself. Whatever that means.
Today something different happened. For the first time in many days, maybe even years, I became aware of this slot of time and what I am doing with it. My well choreographed routine of washing, clipping, digging, scraping, picking, cutting, inspecting, wiping, and loathing.
Fifteen minutes per working day, times five… a full 75 minutes of self-observation per week. This morning I stopped mid-way in and truly asked myself how did I get here and where am I going? Do I even have a destination? Or is this it?
I thought about my wife listening to me while I am conducting this ritual. Does she hear what I am saying or to her is it just the ramblings of a self-involved soul trying to muster up the courage to face the monotony and torture of the work-day ahead of him?
What is it like to share a life with me? What kind of person am I? What the fuck am I doing?
Is this really my idyllic life? Have I actually arrived at the nirvana of my intended actual self? How happy am I? How do I measure my happiness? What is happy?
The expanse of my youthful optimism and the visionary projection of my perfect-self is lost on the reality that time is running out. Time has consumed everything so quickly and so relentlessly that I find myself staggering dizzily in front of the mirror spitting chalky white toothpaste into the sink, forever unable to avoid it getting stuck in the hair of my beard.
My body sags and droops like wax in the sun. I am sure I am not as smart as I used to be. Does this mean I will be even stupider tomorrow? Is there still time? Some people I knew died when they were even younger than I am now. I could die any minute. Is my heart exploding? Shit I shouldn’t have had that last Big Mac. Why am I still fat, I thought I was working on that? Do I smell like old man for real or is my wife just busting my balls? When am I going to do all of the shit I want to do? Fuck I have to be at work it 40 minutes. I would rather eat glass than go back to that fucking office again. What was it I wanted to do with my life again and why?
Who the hell is this man in the mirror? Fuck off Micheal Jackson you almost dropped your baby off a balcony.
I suppose I could decide to say that my life is as off the rails as this post is incoherent, but that would only be from the perception of my long-lost teenage musings and teenagers are assholes.
Then it all ends. I leave the mirror and head out into the big bold exciting world. I “take on the day” gangbusters (not really). But, when the mirror disappears some sense of consciousness is lost without it. My sense of purified-self gets murky as I travel through the day. I get knotted up in the nets and emotional ichor of others and become tar-pitted and entangled in everyone else’s shit.
During the day-to-day is this really me? Is it really us? Are you doing the things you do for money? For the love of what you do? It’s all so variable. All so subjective and dependant on or core state-of-mind at the time. What defines us? Ourselves? Others? What we do? All of the above? None of the above? Why do we need definition.
What is the value of my life beyond what I contribute to other humans that are in my circle, the ones I know or interact with. I won’t leave anything behind. Just some more shitty landfill and a few electronic words. There is no legacy or lineage of forefathers and siblings. I am just another animal wandering around in a circle on this large ball of shit that is swinging around a giant gas ball we call the sun.
Ok time-out. I didn’t want things to get to this point. Impending doom and uselessness – it’s too easy. I wanted to talk about shattered dreams, false realities, lost hopes, and reinvention, rebirth, epiphanies.
I really do believe we are having secret relationships with ourselves (fuck everything else).
When I am in that mirror. Even for the few seconds at work when I am hand-washing, I am connecting with me. I tell myself things. I think things. Behind my eyes looking out at this post and writing, there is a person in here. I think that after the years add up it is a good idea to try and see yourself as that idyllic archetype on the inside.
As a teenager I just wanted everyone else to see me. But my real challenge is trying to see myself instead of caring about what, and how others see me. Or even worse me trying to create a version of myself that I am happy with or “think I should be” (for whatever motivation). It’s hard to do.
A confession. I find it very difficult to be serious with myself. It’s just plain too hard to cope with it. Maybe this is why in front of the mirror I would rather blurt out inane comments and abstract adjectives and phrases that help me defect seeing what is actually going on.
What are you doing in your head right now?