By Emily Rosen
So this is what it’s like to be a writer: sometimes you get stuck. Here’s the deadline and you’re staring at a blank piece of paper, and the current political scene — to which you are addicted and pulsing to writing about – is off limits. So instead, you open the latest e-mail from a friend, with a link to a recommended book and you don’t even peek into the content. You fall in love with the title — well, actually, the subtitle: “My life as a Pretender.” The whole title is Reckless: My Life As A Pretender by Chrissie Hynde, founding member of the rock band The Pretenders.
I do a little Googling and You Tube-ing and now I know Chrissie Hynde. But I only have less than 24 hours – and no time to find and read her book. And it wouldn’t matter because “pretending” is something I think about often and about which I find myself in frequent conflict.
I have sadly concluded that one cannot get though life without having to tarnish one’s sense of authenticity.
Unless you are Henry David Thoreau and willing to live the life of a hermit, then the very act of comingling with others demands a degree of self restraint — zipping up your lip, and engaging in occasional activities that don’t comport with your desires or your sense of self. You see yourself as this “good” person: a friend in need, someone who talks the talk of walking in the shoes of others, empathetic and kind. But in order to be totally true to that image, you are often called upon to ignore your base thoughts and/or feelings in order to fulfill the larger “calling” of your self image. Therein lies the seeds of ambivalence.
So, you don’t say some of the things that are on your mind, that you truly believe, because those “things” can be construed as “negative,” and transmuted to “hostile.” And sensitive people don’t “cotton” to their perception of “criticism.” So you retreat to your “turtle” persona crawling into your shell, exhibiting your most charming “yes” smile – saying one thing while thinking another.
Do we call this “lying,” “self protection,” “kindness” – or inauthenticity? I’m still trying to figure it out and still trying to find an acceptable balance which will help me to be the “good” person I aspire to being, and also the real person I absolutely need to be. The fact that therein lies a conflict keeps me mindfully aware that – after all these many years — I am still trying to figure out who I am.
And I often conclude that I – like many others – am not one monolithic person, but rather a tangle of many me-s.
But, aha! Soon will come the day when our thoughts will be read by the progeny of “Siri” and her counterparts – and nothing that comes into our heads will be off-limit for reading by anyone so inclined. Add that to the list of scaries in the year 2016 – as if we didn’t have enough to worry about.
But you know what? Life is good!