As I get older, I find myself regarding my body with disbelief and incredulity. It seems that every time I see myself in the mirror I get further and further away from the mental image of myself that I hold inside. It can be in various different contexts, too: I look at my arms and feel like they don’t belong to me, see the veins bulging in my feet, smell some part of myself that is revolting and seems to come from a process that is wholly different than the set of impressions that I’ve labeled “me.” All of the things I used to think were gross about men now belong to me. They came along without my permission, and it’s weird.
Children seem to have an incredible amount of belief and sweetness invested in themselves, an innocence that stems from how closely they adhere to their inner beliefs when it comes to acting out their behavior. Everything they do shows through in their countenance and their physicality, because they are always acting out the impulses that rage within them. Noble children; they are the flagships of their own fleet.
By contrast, I wake up (or have an otherwise jarring lucid moment) and see a whole sea of circumstances that have just happened to me. In some respect of course I have “created” all of these things—I have created my life, I have created my room, I have chosen to live in the place I’ve chosen to live in, and I have in one way or another decided to live the life that I find myself swimming inside of. But I feel myself more than not just going along with these things; tolerating them, outlasting them, gritting my teeth in the face of these grievances. Maybe it’s the compromise that separates me from the children; maybe the compromise is the reason why I don’t identify with the face that I see in the mirror. Maybe it’s the pain that I’m withstanding in my body that causes me to distance myself from my own appendages. Maybe if I was only a little more honest and fierce and temperamental about what I believed in, I’d feel more like the idea that comes into my mind when I think of my own name.
I feel like injury happens when you are so far removed from yourself that you no longer care what happens to your body, your mind, your soul. The pilot in the cockpit is no longer there. When you withdraw far enough from yourself that you barely feel yourself down there at all, things happen to you out of carelessness that will cause you to fall down, to break things, to make tragic mistakes, to die. If only you were more careful. This is the reason why I’ve gotten injured in the past—carelessness, and a distinct lack of self-care. I think it’s possible to extrapolate this curve as far as you want to go: to find out truly what it means to be blind to consequences. I want to stop this behavior in my life.
By reasoning the other way, the path back towards childishness and youth is complete self-identification. Yes, you are rad as hell, you handsome cool funny stud, you. I strive every day to see myself as the kid that I once thought I was. I want to pick out about four things every morning that are going right; four things I believe in that are about me, in me, or around me; four things that are right on. As we become adults the causal link between behavior and consequence becomes clearer—this should give us more to believe in, not less. We should be working towards those things we think will do us better, no? It’s not our parents’ fault any more. It’s not public school that’s making you tired. But I guess we do enough searching around to find something to put the blame on, anyways.
I really, really want to get back there. It should just be a matter of doing it, a matter of following the laws that we better know work as an adult. I won’t wake up and have the years slid by and look at myself in a mild shocking contempt to find that I’ve lost myself, to find that I’ve gone. I don’t want to behold the alien—the unfamiliar, the foreigner. I am building the life outside of me the corresponds with the spirit inside; I am building a life I recognize.