So it seems to me that this might be a good time to set down a few words about my “I’m the coolest guy I know” philosophy (for lack of a better term):
This is not a situation in which I have any desire to be the coolest guy you know. Frankly, I really don’t give a shit who the coolest guy you know is. Well, to temper that a bit, if you’re a friend of mine, I might want to know, if only to know you a little better. This is about self-confidence, self-respect, dignity, and all those other characteristics that qualify as attributes, no matter how close they skim to the line of egoism. At bottom, it’s really more of an affirmation than anything else.
Once upon a time, I had idols. People who seemed to me to be a way that I wanted to be. Often enough, these were fictional characters: in books, the movies, etc. Often enough, they were people I met on this journey of life. For the most part, though, they were more ideals than idols. Characteristics I desired that I saw in others (or, for the greater part, thought I saw). Usually, I would observe a particular person (or their actions) in a particular situation and extrapolate that into a complete lifestyle (gotta love an active imagination). I would then try to emulate that style and make it part of me.
Enough preface/digression. One day I was looking in the mirror and feeling pretty full of myself, thinking something along the lines of “I am today exactly who I’ve always wanted to be”. Mind you, I was practically drowning in ego at the time; I thought my ego and superego had merged into one or something. Humility was taking the day off (actually, the big H was on an extended vacation at this time in my life). Anyway, I was flipping back through the last few days or so and thinking good thoughts about myself. In doing so, I was having a really hard time being embarrassed about who I was on the inside or the outside; I was content with myself. I thought “I’m the coolest guy I know”. And then the thought struck me that everybody should feel this way about themselves all the time.
So I started asking people: “who’s the coolest guy you know?” As often as not, I’d get the answer “you are, Ted.” Which, while certainly flattering, (and you can believe this or not:) was not the answer I was looking for.* I would then explain that it shouldn’t be me that’s the coolest guy you know, but yourself. Being soaked in ego at the time, I would quickly follow up with an explanation that I wouldn’t mind continuing being the coolest guy you know (as long as you told everyone else) until you became the coolest guy you know.
As I said before, this is really more of a positive affirmation than anything else. It’s not something I say to myself to get out of the doldrums, but rather something I’m particularly pleased to notice every once in a while. To repeat: it’s neither a mantra nor a prayer, but a realization, an understanding and acceptance about who I am today. I’m not perfect; there are still things I’m trying to change about myself, but at the moment the realization hits, I don’t fight it with a bunch of negativity about how I’m not-this or not-that (yet); I just enjoy the feeling as a reward for the hard work I’ve put in so far. And feelings are transient by nature, so I also don’t try to hold on to it, but let it pass and move on with my day, because fighting to keep a good feeling is as unproductive as fighting to get rid of a bad one.**
Digression: I use the word “So” quite a bit as a starter. This is not altogether unintentional. Please see Seamus Haney’s preface to his translation of Beowulf – it’s a great philological description of this word and its uses/usages. And as a further aside, Haney’s aforementioned preface is a pretty interesting piece of work in and of itself.
To conclude: it really comes down to subjectivity: it’s all we’ve got, so we may as well enjoy it. It’s really enough for me to be the coolest guy I know, because my opinion of me is really the only one that counts. If I wanted to be the coolest guy you know, then I’d want to be the coolest guy everyone knows, and if that’s not entirely impossible, then it’s well-nigh impossible. And where would it end, anyway? There’s humility in realizing that not only can I not be all things to all people, I also can’t be one thing to all people.
Of course, some days I’m a solipsist and don’t really believe any of you exist anyway.
*Sorry: …which…was not the answer I was looking for, bitch. We can’t be ending our sentences with prepositions, now can we?
**Maybe further talk later about how feelings are just feelings and the modifiers “good” and “bad” are not necessarily all they’re cracked up to be.