When I was driving into work yesterday, the traffic was awful. It was okay, though, because I knew my first patient had cancelled. I don’t know what I looked like, behind the steering wheel of my car, but I assume I didn’t look scared about being late.
As I dealt with what looked like the last of a long series of multiple detours and cars battling it out for survival of the fastest, the Talking Heads tune “Life During Wartime” came on the radio.
Here’s the version I heard yesterday:
(YouTube video found here)
I don’t know what Talking Heads looked like while they were singing the studio version of that song, but here’s a live performance version* of that song:
(YouTube video found here)
Yesterday, when I heard the line “I’ve changed my hairstyle so many times, I don’t know what I look like,” I wondered … could that be my next blog post title?
I haven’t changed my hairstyle that much lately (although I’ve been considering it), so only the second part of that line made the title, today.
Why did I choose that title — instead of another one that looked different — today?
Because I don’t know what I look like (and I hope I am not the only one who feels that way).
I think it’s difficult to tell what we look like. We are on the inside looking out, as everybody else is on the outside looking at those parts of us we can’t ever really see.
As Robert Burns said, in his poem “To a Louse”
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
(Or, in the current vernacular:
And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!)
(as quoted in Wikipedia)
While we can’t know what the louse in Robert Burns’s poem looked like, I will tell you that I’ve been quoting Mr. Burns elsewhere (sometimes, it looks like, erroneously):
Och. I’m glad Robbie Burns — the Bard of Scotland — cannot see how I mangled part of his famous poem “To a Mouse.”
I don’t know what it looks like I’m doing in this post, but I better get back to the topic, fast.
So … can we see ourselves as others see us? Do we want to?
As I had many thoughts about perception, yesterday morning, I wondered what people were seeing as I passed by them.
I suppose I could ask the wonderful people in those last two photographs (Julia, Alex, Kevin, Erin, and others at the Starbucks I frequent at work) what they saw. Yes, I could use the antidote of Reality Testing, a very effective cure for the cognitive distortion of Mind Reading.
I wonder what Julia, Alex, Kevin, Erin, or the baristas whose names I do not know would say, if I DID ask them? I’ll let you know, if I get up the courage to ask the question.
Finally, as a fan and a student of stand-up comedy, I shall allow the late Joan Rivers to have some last words:
“I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.”
Thanks to Talking Heads, to Joan Rivers, to all the talking and non-talking heads I looked at yesterday, and to you — of course! — for looking at this, today.
* I don’t know if you want to look at a third version of “Life During Wartime,” but here’s the Stop Making Sense performance I looked at, with wonder, during the 1980’s:
(look at the YouTube video here)
Does anybody have any questions?