So I’m sitting at my desk, and decide to do a little Major Speculating. And what I opt to start thinking about is the one thing that I’m afraid I always find pretty darn fascinating: Me. Actually, in those days (this is about ten years ago), thinking about myself and my life was something that I’d found myself doing more and more often—and it wasn’t something I took particular in doing pleasure, either. My life then wasn’t exactly what you’d call model—unless the model you were designing was called, like, “Typically Lame Male, 1997.” But though it hardly produced in me a warm and fuzzy feeling, I’d found that thinking and reflecting upon my life had become like a carnival ride you totally regret getting on once it starts: It’s no fun at all, but it’s running on its own, and there’s basically nothing you can do but hang on and endure.I mean, the big, fat Bottom Line was that I was a healthy, reasonably intelligent 38-year old man who for a living sorted mail and washed coffee cups.
Not so good.
Horror of horrors: I had actually become the Absolute Nobody that my father (God bless his poor, hurt heart; more later on that, probably!) always predicted that I would.
I simply could not understand how I had arrived at where I so totally … wasn’t.
What had happened to all that potential that I’d grown up hearing I possessed so much of?
So that’s the sort of thing that during that time of my life I found myself increasingly preoccupied with thinking about. And the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that what about my life really bothered me was not, in fact, my job. I’d never cared about jobs—that’s why I had the job I did then. A job, to me, was just a way to pay rent and maybe keep the phone from being turned off. I just didn’t care what job I had. I never had.
What was beginning to gnaw on me like a piranha having breakfast was the realization that my Actual Character was sorely, woefully, painfully, shamefully lacking.
You know, you go through life just sort of assuming that you’re one sort of fellow—kind, charming, morally upright, selfless, thoughtful, honest. And then, for one reason or another (like, for instance, that you start thinking about it), it begins to dawn on you that you’re not that kind of person at all. That you’re not even close to being that sort of person. That you’re flat-out lying to yourself whenever you tell yourself–however often and automatically you tell yourself–that you are that kind of person.
And the more I realized that I wasn’t the sort of person I’d always assumed myself to be, the more I began to feel a chill coming over me. That’s when the clouds began to gather.
Next time: First God Destroys, Then God Fixes