On the Corner
“I GOTTA BE ME …”
by Robert Docter –
I just can’t seem to be someone else. I gotta be me—whatever it is—however it’s perceived by others—it’s me. That doesn’t mean I can’t fine-tune me—I can. I try to examine the feedback I receive from my world and adjust the dials of my personality to lose as much interpersonal static as possible. Within the range of whatever makes up “fine-tuning,” however, I find my patterns of personality expression pretty consistent while trying to avoid being boring.
That jumble of ideas, that array of attitudes, that bevy of beliefs, that collection of experiences, that fountain of feelings all come together as a mysterious interrelated system—and there I am—me.
I’m fairly certain that most of us present ourselves to the world in a fairly consistent manner. I’m happy about that. I’d hate to have to be involved with people who are dramatically inconsistent. I wouldn’t know how to approach them—how to relate to them—what to say to them. I’d be confused in their presence and be spending most of my time trying to figure exactly which mental health classification fit them most accurately.
Now that’s definitely not good for relationships, so I suppose I’d tend to avoid them altogether. I’m convinced, you see, that people tend to take on the characteristics of those with whom they choose to associate—and, if I sense inconsistency in someone, I don’t want to catch it and end up being more like them—unpredictably inconsistent.
I tend to enjoy people more if they relate to me in a reasonably consistent manner. There’s a lot less tension—stress is minimized, and there’s a warm pleasure in the association. I suspect you feel the same way. When there is a desire for a unifying inner consistency, there’s an ease of predictable patterns in our affect and in our views of the world. It is even evident in the manner we might passionately debate various ideas based on widely differing views.
I’m convinced this inner drive for self-consistency has provided me with a sense of unity wherein all aspects of me—mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual come together. This allows me to establish a true identity and put to rest that life-troubling question—“Who am I?”
The most powerful tool parents have in facilitating the development of their children is modeling. If we model inconsistency—especially inconsistency in relation to our moral choices, the child emulates us. That child becomes morally unfocused and ends up defining right action on the basis of whether or not he or she will be caught. If we treat the child with gushing affection on one occasion and total contempt on another, the child cannot predict what any message we send truly means. If we fail to identify and live by consistent positive moral boundaries, the child simply assumes we have no love for him or her.
As the numbers that describe my age continue to accumulate, I am also discovering that I am consistently adaptable in relation to matters of required change. I can’t run as fast or as far. I don’t remember everyone’s name instantaneously. My voice is no longer a ringing, resonant baritone. I no longer play cornet solos… but…I continue to cope.
A friend with whom I graduated from high school and worked with for several years died this week. More and more the obituaries in the paper speak of individuals whose ages come close to the numbers that describe my age as well. I grieve my own loss as those I know well come to the end of life. Please know—I feel great—my self-confidence still borders on egotistical, and I still strive for inner consistency.
I’m ready! Where, o death is your sting?