Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Life As a Nobody


Ah, to be a Nobody! To come into a town where no one knows you and you know no one. Just a stranger passing through, a pair of legs with two eyes and a camera, a dreamer dreaming with a pen and journal in hand. You are not in any of the photos (no selfies), just the eye you see with. And if you are writing well, as did the ancient haiku poets, you are not wholly present in your writing either, just reporting what you see and hear without too many adjectives of I-statements.

This such a delicious freedom! No pre-arranged self to live up to or feel confined by, no pressure to be known or to know anyone else. You’re in this world, but also apart, just observing, just reporting, just enjoying the cool breeze in the shade. No tangled relationships, no “we’ve got to talk” heavy conversations, no big or little dramas. You’re just a stranger passing through.

And if you tire of the game, there’s always (well, almost always) the thin thread of wifi to tug on if you want to be a somebody again. But for now, enjoy the freedom to spring the traps of all the selves you’ve created and work so hard to sustain. Just wander, anonymous, free, no one in particular partaking of whatever the world presents to you. Do it while you can!

Because soon, you’ve have to return to being somebody specific. (Lily Tomlin: “I always wanted to be somebody, but I guess I should have been more specific.”) The one crafted from all the selves you tried on that didn’t fit until you found the one that did. Your little corner of creation from which to know the world and give back to the world. If things have gone well, this fellow also gives back pleasure, someone you’re mostly happy to hang out with, someone who feels useful and occasionally needed and once in a while, absolutely necessary for the occasion. Always a work-in-progress, always the tinge of regret that I, for example, will never play piano as well as that 14-year old last night or write the best-selling book that lies on people’s nightstand, but at the end of the day, happy to be able to play piano at all, to write the books I’ve written (and this blog), to have given children and adults some happiness in workshops making music. That’s a guy I can live with and anyway, do I have a choice?

But no matter how well we get along, we will need a break from each other and I believe that that is what vacation is for. Give that guy a break, wander the world as nobody in particular and feel how you will return to the somebody refreshed, rejuvenated, renewed. That’s the gift Sicily has given me this past week and one I have so happily received. And hope to for the next four days before I’m standing in front of the class again with something that people expect me to do and say. May it be so!

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