Monday, July 13, 2009

Indulge Me In A Little Navel-Gazing: Or, Am I Really An Asshole, or Just Naive?

In the movie "Bull Durham", Susan Sarandon's character Annie Savoy says, "The world was made for those not cursed with self-awareness." If you don't understand what that means, stop reading right now, and return to your life of good fortune. If you understand, well, you understand. In contrast to Annie Savoy, another great philosopher, Socrates, tells us that "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right; here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

I've been trying to write this for several days, getting three or four paragraphs in and then scrapping the draft. My adviser, Huffington Post's book The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, tells me that a good blog post need not be perfect, just timely, and a blog needs constant updating, at least one post a day. Well, I am not going to argue with one so successful as Arianna Huffington, but I am not so confident in my writing as to just post any garbage that comes to mind.

But I digress (I'm beginning to see a pattern here). We were discussing philosophy. I am one of those Savoy describes as "cursed with self-awareness". I cannot get through one day without examining my life and every move I make in infinite detail. But somehow, I manage to do all this without any awareness or regard for those closest to me. Often, they know me better than I know myself.

I was reminded of this a few days ago, when the woman who promised to love, honor, and tolerate reminded me of an errand I needed to do for about the 10th time. Me: I know, I know, why do you always keep reminding me of stuff I already know I have to do? It makes me feel like you don't trust me to remember anything. She: I feel like I have to remind you because all your life you have never been able to follow through on anything important.

Wow. What a revelation. She was able to state to me something that I have never been able to identify by myself. And she was absolutely right. I have never completed anything, never seen anything through to its logical conclusion.

And..... I have no way to finish this article. What are the odds? The very frailty to which I am admitting is asserting itself even as I document it.

The impulse to introspection is strong with me, to get back to the point. Perhaps it goes back to my childhood. I never spent much time playing with friends; I had a hard time making friends, to be honest, and I still do. So I spent a lot of my time as a child reading the World Book Encyclopedia. I think that's where I got my fondness for trivia. I would just pull a volume from the shelf, open it up, and read about the first thing that caught my interest. While you may think that this would make me wise, it in fact did not. I have no common sense whatsoever. I possess a veritable warehouse of knowledge in my mind, which made me a valuable partner for Trivial Pursuit, but did me no good whatsoever in the real world. I call it "Jeopardy Smart".

So there you have it: I'm a self-centered, self-contemplating, selfish bastard who has no real social skills, no street smarts, and no clue how to read my spouse. So you tell me: am I an asshole or just naive?


  1. While I am tempted to go musical quote and reply that you're "just an ordinary average guy" that isn't my best guess. I don't have the details of the timeline, but you did manage to remarry your spouse, who by your own admission knows you better than you know yourself. Karen clearly cares about you, your future and your internal well-being.

    It takes at least some skill (social or otherwise), some street smarts (or at least a sense of self-preservation) and certainly some ability to convince her you are paying attention to get a woman who actually KNOWS you (and not just you--anyone really) to reinvest.

    The curse of the self-aware, in my mind, is that we too often become self-indulgent and self-obsessed. It's an odd kind of egomania, because we are rarely satisfied with ourselves. Very few people who know us realize we are at least as critical (if not more so) of ourselves than we are of others. We do not suffer fools easily, and whether we came by that trait from encyclopedia reading, Jeopardy watching or Latin class is irrelevant. We have critical thinking skill and we aren't afraid to use them.

    It's just that those skills aren't always necessary for things like paying bills, or making it to work ontime. In fact those skills will only get us in trouble when we have to sit through one more staff meeting, meal with your sig other's friends/family that you don't like, or appointment with the doctor or lawyer. So those things tend to bore us.

    We'd rather be home with a nice scotch contemplating our navels where we won't hurt anybody but ourselves. Except in life, attendance counts.

  2. me asshole.