Guess I’m just stuck with me
In the end, after all is said and done, when push comes to shove and at the end of the line, when the hen comes home to roost and it’s time to tuck me in — well, I’m stuck with me.
It could be I’ve logged onto SecondLife and picked up an avatar with new looks and clothes and friends. But in the end, I had to come back and be me.
We looked for life in outer space by landing on the moon and discovering other planets in the outer reaches of the universe. After that, though, we came back and paid our water and electric bills, and settled back into our life-as-is, in our house with the stucco and red trim.
Like the major league baseball stars on performance enhancing drugs — the Mark McGuires and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who wanted to be greater than they already were — some rushed for the steroids and groped for a higher place in the sun and then had to avoid a black hole instead. We, too, may have dreamt of better times but then returned to business as usual, and we settled in to our regular life that’s been coming down the line.
There are those who are grandiose — they think they’re the greatest and the best. They’re the narcissists, and kids nowadays are 10 percent more so than 20 years ago — that’s what the polls say. Others, though, don’t think much of themselves. They put themselves down and look at their weak side, and their self-esteem is as low as the pants that gang-bangers wear.
If I’d be like these last ones, I’d look for a new issue of me, but I can’t, because I’m out of stock. Everything else I can find on eBay, or at least somewhere on the Web — but not me, because there’s no more of me. They’ve discontinued the brand.
Sometimes I look around and admire the others, who look so good and dress so smart and talk so fine. There’s no denying the talents he has and the brains that are hers, and I’d like to take on the skills of a friend and the qualities that can’t be denied in that neighbor down the street.
I’m decent myself and, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty in me that makes me proud and glad to be me. Still, there’s got to be more. With each passing year, those defects and drawbacks and little-known warts reappear, and they rise to the surface to remind me they’re still there. My love for myself is in spite of it all and regardless of deficits and neglects, of minuses lying loose amid pluses that well might be.
There’s a speech to give in life, so I gather the folks and give the first line. Then my voice fades away, and the punch line, too, and people drift off, leaving me with the goods. I’m ready to roll, and I crank up the engines, shift into gear, and let the wheels turn. My time has come, and I try to be modest but then realize: I’m proud of it.
It’s good to remember that half the people out there are below average. They say, too, that the problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard. And there are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t. So I’m stuck with me.
Then I come to my senses. It’s been said that when everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane and going the wrong way. There’s not just a SecondLife but the next life, too. I’m not just this me, but the one that I’m coming to be, even now. I’m not the world’s greatest, like the self-esteem gurus and self-concept hacks like to tell me I am. But Somebody up there loves me just the same and is making me over, step by step.
Seventy thousand years ago, there were only 2,000 people in the world on the brink of extinction. Since then, we’ve expanded from Africa, making it back, and not badly at that.
So, sure, I’m stuck with me — that won’t change, but it’s the right lane to be in. There may be life on Mars, but I don’t care. I may never have made it into any “Who’s Who” — I’m just a he’s he. And that’s quite enough.
That’ll do just fine.
Kozeny works for Socorro Mental Health Inc. His views are not necessarily those of his employer. He can be reached by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.