When Steve types my name into Facebook search it returns the result “Anna Rosenblum Palmer egomaniac”.
This upsets him.
But it doesn’t bother me. (See, that’s what an egomaniac would say). I spend almost every morning writing about myself. Then I often share what I wrote. At its best blogging allows readers to see the world through another person’s eyes. Sometimes they are enlightened by the differences in lifestyle and world view from their own. Sometimes they are comforted by the similarities to his/her own experiences and feelings. At its worst blogging is masturbatory and boring to anyone outside the author. I’d say this blog runs the whole spectrum. One thing that almost every blog as in common is the copious use of the word “I”.
It was during my second serious relationship that I realized that some people didn’t live their lives in the world of pronouns. I watched my boyfriend lean his curly head over tiny circuits and explain how they would come together to power the robotic knee he was helping to build. He was alive with the idea of these connections. The electricity from the circuit board lit him up more than our high school gossip. I knew that that was where his head and heart were meant to be. For a moment I saw my life as the 1x of an enormous microscope, and he was a magnification higher, looking into to systems that I barely knew existed.
I pictured it in the shape of a Hershey’s kiss with myself at the top (that what an egomaniac would do) the micro world had his circuits and the way the body systems worked together, then beyond, unfathomable to me, were atoms and quarks. I realized how deep his understanding and interest was but decided to ignore it. I would stay where I was comfortable analyzing our relationship to death and think about the life of the person who would get the robotic knee. Something my boyfriend had never considered.
It wasn’t long before I came face to face with the reverse of his micro world. My mother was a political theorist and studied democratic and other political systems. I knew this was her work life, but as I got older I realized this was also her life’s work. When I would talk about a particular problem in school she wasn’t as interested in the story or characteristics of the players but the general social workings of the school as a whole. When I began to realize the depth of my depression she would listen to me of course, but her main focus was on “experts” and what the overarching medical system might say, where my problems fit in a spectrum of issues. For me it was always about me. (an ego-maniac catch phrase) The particular trumped the general.
In college my friend and I rode for two hours in the back of a car while the two guys in front talked about the possibility of infinite solar systems. After quickly getting bored of their circular discussion I decided to count the pronouns in their conversation. In two hours they uttered 5 pronouns. All “he”. Each was in reference to research by scientists. The image of the Hershey’s kiss with me at the top morphed into an hourglass with me at the center (exactly where an egomaniac might live.) Below me were circuits and circulatory system, atoms and quarks. Above me were political systems and global trade agreements, the galaxy and the questions of humanity’s purpose.
I am in the middle of the hourglass. I live here with my husband and my family and my friends. I understand the world of pronouns where I learn and care about personal problems. When I talk about parenting philosophy I am referring to Steve’s and mine. When I talk about education I refer to the public school my boys attend. I think about the world and the carbon that it is composed of and the carbon that we spend…but not as frequently and without the same facility that I do when discussing a friend’s fears. It is the macro, the micro and me. I live in the center at the thinnest point of the hourglass where I can easily get my arms around it. As well as my head.
Over drinks I talked about my concept of an hour glass of magnification with friends. One made the astute observation that work life and personal life often required different levels of focus. At work he needs to understand a broad corporate culture. At home he focuses on family. Then his wife reminded him of his love for debate over foreign policy, a topic whose pronouns might be limited to us & them. He looked at her and nodded. He did like to discuss foreign policy. Probably more than he liked discussing each of our individual magnifications of life.
I see how my 1X perspective can make me seem like an egomaniac. Yet I think it is more a function of how I best analyze the world. Starting with me and the people I know and moving in and out from there. The fact that I write about it is another issue. One that I would be happy to discuss with you individually.
What about you? Are you at a magnification of one? (This is not a question an egomaniac would ask.)
[PS- there was an entirely different post that I meant to write about how some people are comfortable (and might even celebrate) being disliked and others have never been disliked in their lives. Any thoughts you have on that before I write it up are welcome.]