I wrote this essay nearly three years ago. My life has changed more in these three years than it had in the previous 40. I have taken what I wrote hear to heart, with some weeks being better than others, and I truly feel like progress has been made. It’s nice to look back at it a few years later, and know that some lessons can be learned, and some progress can be made — if only at a snail’s pace…
Me, Myself, and Irony
I don’t like myself much. I mean, I guess I do like the shape of my arms – some. I like the amount of weight I can lift – a bit. I like the way in which I can make my bike charge up a steep hill – at times. That I can (occasionally) still turn a head in a restaurant is also nice, but those are what I do, not who I am. Increasingly, I find myself lacking mental fitness; the kind of character that makes one a better component of the atom of humanity.
Who I really am is a guy who let his guard down years ago, and now lives comfortably well beneath his potential – because it’s easier this way. I have taken my eyes off, and quit listening to the best role-model and the best friend I would ever have – me. Early in life, I had promised myself that if I would follow my own advice, I would lead myself to a life most worthy. I never intended to break away and become such a selfish asshole, but it has certainly unfolded that way – probably for you too.
Ego, Mego, And Wego
For much of my early adult life the person I admired above all others was actually me – or the me I was striving to become. No hero I could choose to emulate would have as much to offer the world, I thought, as I would someday. That’s okay, that’s okay, I laugh too when I think about it – now. But I wasn’t laughing then, I was serious and I had a plan. My best friend in those years was also me, and me kept me focused on the plan.
There were certainly people I had admired in my wide-eyed youth. Most I admired for all the wrong reasons, and the heroes I chose never failed to let me down. But for my high expectations of them, every role-model I had through my teen years fell as slowly as a leaf until the hero-tree eventually stood bare before me. By my twenties, as each hero had faded into the realm of being only human, I began to understand that hero should be viewed as a personal destination, and not a view to another. I would be a hero.
Role-models Vs. Roll-Models
It has not worked out quite the way I had envisioned. One divorce, several broken relationships, countless shots of tequila, foul words uttered, temper tantrums thrown, optimism thwarted, failed business attempts, money earned and money squandered, good eating/bad eating, fitness and fatness, and millions of willful poor choices later, I have long since forgotten about the hero I was supposed to be. I can now only explore who I am to become. Allow me to introduce you to another fallen leaf from the hero tree; me, the hero within.
Sports radio host Jim Rome often says, speaking of wayward athletes,
“You are who you roll with.”
Meaning, an individual reflects the image and character of who he spends time with; guilt by association, and often by osmosis – taking on lesser traits offered by the other(s). And that’s where I have failed – I have been “rolling” with my inner-self for too long.
To coin a popular term from this era of social networking, I have decided to unfriend my inner Roy. I release him because he does me more harm than good, tells me it’s okay to cheat at life, to back off, to slack, to let my guard down, and to put me/him first. His weary act has grown tiresome and I just don’t want to roll with him anymore.
Can This Really Be Done?
I don’t know, I have never broken up with myself before. I am not in pursuit of a perfect life or being a perfect man. I am only in pursuit of a change that will get me back on the hero path, not to be confused with the hero destination. Though it is easy to conceive of and discuss change in this way, it will be something different to achieve that change. Now primary in my psyche must be a complete divorce from the failed hero-me.
It has often been said that, character is what you do when nobody else is looking. In a more useful sense I believe that, hero is when you decide to never take your eyes off yourself – 24/7.
In that ego-rooted early adult life I lived, I had often joked that the world would be much better off if there were three billion Roy Cohens, and three billion women to worship them. Now I’m just seeking to create one good Roy, so that one young woman will forgive him. Be well. rc
Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there is this wonderful collaboration of, The Weight. Enjoy ….