Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Not So Hot

Originally posted on August 27, 2015

Sometimes I’m hot (good), but sometimes, not so much. So here are some further autobiographical notes that acknowledge the frailty of memory, the natural tendency to fill in the gaps, the unconscious forces that make us paint a picture of whatever we deeply emotionally want it to be. Autobiography is to some degree fiction, someone pointed out, “fiction; badly written,” as one definition put it.

I’m pretty successful on the whole but yesterday bit off more than I could chew and gave a class that collapsed about my ears. Shame-filled, I finished a half-hour early. I hadn’t prepared enough. I thought I had, but looking back, I was a bit too confident—and also not so sure—part of me knew. This humbling event fits in with this essay: My life has had its downs, its failures.

Indeed. I want to deny this and wallow in my present good fortune—loving, beautiful life; some material comfort in retirement; friends and acquaintances; a rich and deep philosophy and good stuff I want to witness to. But I confess that I’m a little brittle and my autobiography, as it forms, must be recognized as “It kinda was.”

Relative to many I seem wise, but I know that in various roles I’m sorta clueless. I’ve set things up so that my folly is buffered by enough safe stuff that it doesn’t matter much. I don’t really deny it—witness this blog post!—but it doesn’t stop me cold. (Well, it sorta-kinda did yesterday.)

Is there a spectrum ranging from raging inferiority complex to high self-esteem. When does the left side get neurotic and the right side narcissistically unrealistic or prideful. And all this plays in a culture shift where the general sense of “real man” or “success” is shifting from money or golf scores to whether one stands up to one’s spouse.

So this bit is just to set the record straight. Walt Whitman said in his Leaves of Grass, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself! I am great! I contain multitudes!” I like this, but the word great can be read as excellent or many-faceted. I am great in the second sense, and many of may facets are far from excellent. I have parts that know very little, parts that are a bit timid, lazy, non-adventurous, afraid of discomfort much less pain, and so forth. On balance I can like myself for what I do and am—overall fairly nice—but I’m in no way a hero in many ways.

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