Dearest Rachel –
Back in the day, when I was still a part of the work farce, Mohinder would ask me about what I told myself each morning when I would stare at myself in the bathroom mirror, getting ready for the new day. He didn’t seem to think I could face my reflection and promise myself that I would do better that day than the day before, like he always did – and back it up with deeds, like he always (thought he) did. He didn’t seem to appreciate it when I responded that not only didn’t I ever give myself a pep talk in the morning like he recommended, I didn’t even have a bathroom mirror to look myself in the face.
I’m pretty sure, in retrospect, that my hyper-literal response to him was a good deal of what infuriated him. That, and pretty much everything about me – but that’s beside the point.
He was a big believer in self-improvement, and what might be referred to as ‘creative visualization.’ What it appeared to boil down to was that, if you tell yourself you’re going to do better, you will. He was fond of a story about a certain famous (although apparently not too famous, as the story hinges upon his not being recognized by a boy in the street) cricketer who, upon encountering a boy headed likewise to the pitch for the day’s match, asking him what he was looking forward to when he got there. The boy responded that he wanted to see this particular cricketer play, to which he assured the boy that not only would he see the man play, he would see him ‘hit a century,’ whatever that means. And, of course, in the story, when he says he’ll hit a century, that’s exactly what he did.
Mohinder asserted that by making that guarantee (which, for my purposes, I always translated into those many old stories about Babe Ruth visiting this or that little kid in hospital and promising to hit a home run the next day, with similar results), the cricketer was thus able to accomplish that feat. Had he said he would ‘get bowled out,’ (which in context, I interpreted as equivalent to striking out), that would have happened. But who promises a hopeful little kid that they’ll strike out on the ball field the next day?
Look, I get that positive thinking has a tendency to generate positive results (and similarly, negative thinking can result in more negative results), so his argument has some merit. But making a guarantee – while dramatic when it happens; just ask an old New Yorker about Joe Namath and Super Bowl III some time – is a risky proposition. Sure, Babe Ruth led the league in home runs a number of time; he also led the league in strikeouts many of those same years. Not only that, but he peaked at 60 one year, in a season containing two-and-a-half times that many games. If he guaranteed to hit a home run before every game, he’d look pretty darn foolish far more often than not. The way I saw it, there was no point making promises I couldn’t necessarily keep from one day to another. I don’t think I was being so much negative or positive, but realistic.
But Mohinder seemed convinced that this morning ritual worked, and that he was becoming a better person every day – unlike the stupid fools he was forced to manage (like me), who were dragging him down in the sight of his superiors, and making him look bad. Fine, let him think that. I didn’t see why I needed to buy into the method, myself – especially given how dubious I was about the results (not that I could tell him that).
I can’t remember who it was, but some comedian once joked about how if you’re talking to God, it’s called prayer, and it’s a good thing, but if you hear Him talking back to you, that’s likely to be schizophrenia, and it’s a bad thing. Now, while you and I would probably Aunt Florence that line by saying it was actually dissociative identity disorder, the point stands; conversations with oneself aren’t supposed to be a thing. It isn’t as if there’s a part of one’s mind that knows what the rest of it doesn’t; or if there is at a certain point, the neurons are firing throughout the network to keep the entire brain up to speed. By the time it’s instructing the mouth to speak on the subject, it’s already as fully-informed as it can be. So it becomes a pointless gesture to tell yourself something that you already know. And if you’re trying to convince yourself of something you already know not to be true, well, that strikes me as just stupid. How do you even do that, and why would you?
Anyway, that was a fairly roundabout means of letting you know that I can finally look myself in the face in the morning. Tim finally hung a new medicine chest in the master bathroom.
I don’t what else there is to say about it, though – whether to you, or to me. I suppose it will allow me to ensure every tooth is brushed and every hair is in place (or removed, in the case of my chin), for what any of that might be worth.
Anyway, thanks for hearing me out, and listening to a story I may never have told you about from my working days. At least I don’t have to deal with that sort of pseudo-inspirational stuff anymore.
Love you, honey, and keep an eye out for me.