Email after email I receive is from someone who says they’re exhausted. Over on the 2012S (2012 Scenario) discussion group, people are talking about ascenionitis. My wife is flattened and off to have her blood checked. Evidently whatever it was that flattened me is flattening others. It’s nice to know one isn’t somehow the only one feeling this exhaustion.
As I lie in bed recovering, I watch the thoughts arise and one line of thought is particularly humorous.
Erving Goffman, the world’s greatest sociologist in my books, once gave a word-picture of Preedy having a swim. Goffman recorded every thought that Preedy had about how to stride into the water, what to look at, how to fashion his gestures and activities so as to look good. Preedy’s entire performance was about managing his image, managing the impression he thought he was creating.
Preedy would slide into the water, then with bold strokes go a distance, and then stop as if not to overdo things, etc. Preedy would float on his back, gaze in the air, then stride back onto land and towel himself down energetically, all to look good.
And here I am watching myself lie here and manage my image. How to recover from the endless dropped balls, bricks, gaffes, mistakes, false steps, I’ve made today, etc. Hopeless task. How counter to emergence trying to look good is, to preserve my good estimation in the eyes of others. How passe. How blase.
The stuff of idle fantasies and endless conniving, tying up my energy forever.
And the futility of it all. I am the only one who doesn’t see what I’m doing. Everyone else listens or looks at me and smiles. Pathetic.
I sit around having “howdido” conversations, rehearsing what I did today and what I’ll do tomorrow, taking the rough edges off my story before I feed it to the important people in my life. Trying to fit reality into a TV show where the audience sees the flashing sign “Applaud.”
But looking good is only half the tale. The other half is what I’ve called “vasanas” on occasion, using the Sanskrit term for behavior patterns that have arisen out of searing past incidents in which we decided never again to do things that way but always to do them this way. All my vasanas come up at a time like this and I lie in bed tossing an turning, roasting and regretting. I review all the times I haven’t looked good.
Life is suffering and most of it I created. What is it my brother is fond of saying? Life is full of pretty awful things and some of them actually happened.
Well, please excuse me if I don’t edit my image today, retell my story endlessly until I have it just right. Trying to look good has become too hard a task. Maybe I need to take Cialis or something (weeeellll, they all have smiles on their faces!!!!). I’ve preened my image, polished the statue so many times that even I no longer believe it. And I know for sure that no one else ever has.