Friday, November 11, 2011
The writing prompt said Worst Case Scenario. That's all, just three little words. Some went to work immediately, others leaned back, leaned forward, squirmed, dug deep into the wells of their lives to retrieve the fully repressed or fully fantasized. No me.
The thought came quickly. "What if" was the lead line. The substance was being perceived by others. Wouldn't it be horrible if people ...the people in your life to be exact, all shared a perception of you and your personality that was far...very far from what you thought. In short, what if people did not think of you in the way you thought they did?
Writer James Baldwin once said, "If I am not who you think I am, then you are not who you think you are." That's what I'm talkin' about. Not being who you think you are. Worst case scenario.
I suppose it could be a tremendous opportunity. After all, how many times do we get to adjust our personalities. How much insight do we really get from those in our lives who define our identity? Our significant others, be they husbands, wives, partners, companions know much more about our authentic selves than most. No worst case there. But the notion that people we count on, people we share important parts of our lives with may be simply tolerating us without our knowledge is an earthquake.
So I created a character that essentially looked like what Carl Jung called our "shadow" side. This dark side is much more than an Id unbound. It's, as Jung himself said, "the less commendable part of our personality. It's all our quirks, neuroses, evil impulses, un-evolved, crap that we carry around and display from time to time.
Think about what that looks like. For me, it's the name dropper, the gossip, the guy that interrupts. It's the guy that spews anger while driving because someone displayed human error. It's every time I told myself I wasn't going to react in an emotional way and violated that pledge instantly when someone or something touched a nerve.
Seems to me that this kind of worst case scenario is much more difficult to overcome than a flat tire or an unexpected car repair. It's more devastating than some kinds of loss (a job, mediocre friend, an appetite) After all, it's you not knowing yourself or how others see you.