All the World a Stage?

           Tonight I sat down and considered all of the things that make me happy, my original intention being to improve my life by structuring my time to better accommodate such experiences, but what this exercise has brought me to realize is something far more important, and a bit disturbing, about who I really am. I realized that the only things that really make me happy all seem to be some manner of performance, and I think perhaps that I am incapable of comprehending myself as a truly solitary being, completely separate from the estimations of all others; my life seemingly begins and ends with you, and what I can’t quite figure out is if I think that there’s anything wrong with that.

           Even the seemingly solitary act of creating things is, for me, something that’s almost always done with the sole intention of producing a praiseworthy accomplishment. Obviously writing something like this has a therapeutic and introspective value to it, but I’m not sure I’d even bother if I didn’t think it would make a good post. My early creative efforts were originally focused on visual art, but I stopped drawing back in high school so as not to be placed in any sort of contention or uncomfortable comparison with my best friend at the time, who’s still a visual artist to this day; instead, I simply became a poet, and eventually a prose writer.

           Although there was a bit more to it than that, there’s nothing in the details that negates the idea that I’m anything other than an entirely social creature. As I recall, I also found the medium of visual art to be too fragile and cumbersome (scanners were not quite so prominent or sophisticated back then), while the written word… well, that was infinitely replicable, and could reach anywhere there was a computer screen. In short, it was all done for my audience and my desire to connect to them and, ultimately, to be admired.

           Ironically, singing and dancing, which are more obvious forms of performance, seem to give me an enormous amount of pleasure even without the apparent aid of any audience, although I wonder if that’s not just because I’m simply performing for myself, content with my estimation of what other’s would think IF they were there. After all, I have to admit that I usually find fire spinning to be a bit too much trouble if there’s no one there for which to perform, and when I used to make myself do it alone just for practice, I always resented the curmudgeonliness of all those passerbys who simply refused to stop and take notice.

           With some of the other happiness producing things that I do, the performance may be more subtle, but it’s still undeniably there. For example, I love to spar, but I doubt that I would find it as satisfying if I had to fight a dummy instead of a real person, and even when I do fight a person, or a even a whole group of people, I’m well aware that I enjoy it far more when I have an outside audience to observe our contest, preferably with at least one person present who actually wants to see me do well. For me, sadism or masochism have nothing to do with it; it's all for glory alone.

           This performance lust is obviously also the reason that I relish socializing in large groups, for those informal opportunities to engage in public speaking, standup comedy, and a bit of pedagogy all at once. Indeed, I wonder if there’s anything else but the thrill of performance that drives my passion for teaching, even down to my willingness to conference with parents. I’m well aware that I’m being scrutinized and judged under the full weight of the sort of entitled consumerism that only comes from someone who feels like they’ve bought and paid for you, and I absolutely love it; I feed on their attention, their positive estimations of my competence, like it was honey, even as I attempt to hide this shallow fact, so as to do so even more gracefully. Being graceful, after all, generally makes me happy as well.

           In short, it appears that I am revealed, by all of the things that give me real pleasure, to be utterly vain and self serving. You may have noticed that sex is conspicuously absent from my list; well, my lover is gone, and now no one else will do, and so that is that. I also left off learning and training, but that’s because I don’t think that I inherently enjoy these things nearly as much as I enjoy showing off all the things that I know or that I can do. In the end, my only real passion in life turns out to be for myself alone, but if this is really the truth of me then, regardless of what people say about such things, why should I be ashamed?

           I find myself in a quandary; What started as an attempt to introduce more levity into my life has lead me to a very depressing revelation that I really don’t know how to accommodate. I detest “writing for therapy” pieces like these, particularly when they’re passed off as some sort of consumable media or “art,” but I’m going to post this because I feel that it raises a valid existential question, one which I am unequipped to answer at this moment, and so will humbly pass onto my readers for consideration.

           Most importantly, in the interest of transcending this problem, I think it’s best to leave it without any place to hide. My hope, then, is that by dragging it out into the light in this manner, with your astute help, I’ll be better able to either destroy it or to accept it for what it is. Thank you and Namaste.

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1 Response
  1. I think that you're merely enjoying the other end of a long pendulum swing. Everything you would now like to spend time performing for peers, was previously honed and developed in some space of introspection with said arts. The balance comes from sharing what you learn in this (isolated?) introspection, with others. -- Preperation, transformation, reintegration. Enjoy your alchemy brother.


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