With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
I cannot tell a story. I can tell you names, dates and numbers but I cannot tell a story. This train of thought came from an idea I had while driving to work. It’s hardly ever while sitting on my sofa waiting for inspiration and almost always at a time that couldn’t be worse. The idea was about having original thoughts. I was talking to myself in the car, using my Cockney accent as I am wont to do, bemoaning another tepid attempt at conversation with family recently.
The fault was not the family. Not the individuals either. Every individual who chooses to may run tape on their dialogue to see if they got it right. It isn’t even important if they actually got it right, they only have to think that they got it right to move on to other business.
I thought I tanked yet another conversation and now my Brit alter ego CW was letting me have it. He reminded me I talk fast to get the words out before I forget them. They are usually someone else’s words that I am regurgitating. I’m no big fan of Good Will Hunting but the scene at the bar with Matt Damon and Scott William Winters was a good one.
I sometimes talk fast when I am passionate about something. The words are all me and I feel honest and good about the exchange even if it appears I am struggling to get the right words out. The exchange is pleasantly awkward as I experience the scene right before the listener’s eyes, conveying what I feel. Not everyone appreciates the struggle and it is not always easy to follow my lead.
This becomes doubly hard when I try to have an intelligent conversation about something I read, or heard. I cannot recall the anecdote, or historical fact and wind up make things up to fill the gaps. And to see me struggle with history or specific stories is not a pretty sight.
So I’m in the car, spitting out “ALL YOU CAN DO IS FUCKING REGURGITATE WHAT MORE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE HAVE SAID BEFORE YOU AND YOU CAN’T EVEN DO THAT WITHOUT SOUNDING LIKE A RIGHT CUNT!” and I’m apologizing and agreeing with “myself” simultaneously thinking about original thought as another idea towards better writing. Not to rerun what is familiar but to plumb deeper into original thought. Not a synopsis of history but a critical view or nothing at all.
Better writing and maybe better speaking. Though the latter may be a ship long sailed. I have much to offer but it often wants to impress losing sight of information for information’s sake. This particularly bothers me because I am more comfortable discussing art for art’s sake, speaking from my land of make believe.
I don’t speak much outside of exchanges with my wife, so when I speak to others, words just tumble out and I think it’s awful.
From my idea about original thought came another idea, about memory retention. And this is where my subpar storytelling, history recalling skills come in. I was listening to one of my patients as he spoke about Pearl Harbor as a retaliatory attack, one Roosevelt was aware of yet unprepared for Japan to be such a formidable enemy. He’s 90 years old and rattled off the history like a professor. His previous life he was a biophysicist at NIH.
There I had a moment. I was jealous. He was so good at remembering the facts and could also inject his critical view. The closest I come is talking about a film or TV show, recalling what was seen and then injecting my critical view.
As he spoke I thought about my historical recollections. Spotty. Not worthy of opening my mouth. And I thought about how my brain can pick up and remember useless trivia (I was IMDB before it was invented) but whole chunks of real life history remain mysterious.
I could probably train myself to be better at this retention though I am satisfied merely being aware of this weakness. Better to know a shortcoming so it doesn’t catch you off guard.
I’m okay with those apples.