Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Knowing the Un-constructed Self

If you notice me sitting alone and pursing my lips with the air of far away thought, chances are I am either doing it on purpose because I want you to think I'm a thoughtful person, or I'm imagining myself doing a song and dance routine to "When I'm 64" at a famous actor's 32nd Birthday. I don't know which actor it is and at the end of this scenario his handlers give me a check and I go home without ever meeting him. Everyone agrees that I am adorable and many people try to hire me for future events and possibly a Disney pilot but I refuse because, like all truly humble talents, I am not interested in the Show Business lifestyle. I just did it this once as a favor.

This is not a fantasy. It is not an unfulfilled dream. I do not enjoy dancing by myself in front of others and although I do enjoy singing this is actually entirely unrelated. This is not something I want for myself. The imagining of this event just pleases me, and like all things that please me it dominates my inner world entirely and with very little warning. This is not the kind of thing that I would ever mention to anyone in conversation and I do not feel that it defines or even reflects my personality in any meaningful way. I bring it up because I feel it is my bloggerly duty to expose my low-stakes secrets for the sake of discussion.

 When no one is paying attention to me I usually am thinking about the people I care about or I am thinking responsible thoughts like what do I need to accomplish today? or what do I want for myself in the long run? or even occasionally what do people think of me? These are self-aware thoughts that I think when I am actively engaging in my own life and in the world around me. These are the thoughts thought by the version of myself that I choose to send out into the world. However, when I stop paying attention to myself and let my brain do what it wants, I am usually thinking things that would look and sound like complete nonsense to anyone other than me.  These kinds of thoughts are hard to keep track of because like dreams, I can usually only process them retroactively.

This is all just a fancy way to discuss what happens when we "space out", but I think it would be really fascinating if we could accurately expose these sides of ourselves to each other. It's impossible, though, because in even beginning to discuss these kinds of thoughts we are actively sanitizing them and re-working them to make sense to someone else. The description of my kitchy little vignette isn't really accurate. It can't be. It's never really exactly the same and it's not like I'm closing my eyes and thoughtfully imagining the details of the event. It just pops into my head and there it is. The bit about about it being a 32 year old actor's birthday party came in later versions and as stupid as it sounds I can't edit that out. It's in there and it will stay that way until something changes. It's also not the only thing that ever pops in. I happen to remember it because its recurring and it can sometimes be triggered by  the song coming on my ipod in shuffle mode. I'm pretty sure I also spend a lot of time thinking that I must remember words in Spanish that I learned while watching Pan's Labyrinth. If I actually end up remember any they do not stick.

Thinking about this kind of thing for too long makes me a little squeamish and like my brain might suck itself into a vortex of some kind so I'm going to stop now.

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