When we were young, we kept diaries to record our thoughts and feelings, victories and losses. Now we use Instagram to digitally and wordlessly immortalize those moments with photos and videos that invariably capture us from our good sides. When the camera is unkind, we take to Facebook to indulge in first person exultation using lazily egotistical acronyms and sentence fragments. With whatever is at our disposal, we will do what it takes to freeze past moments into idealized nuggets of self-promotion, casting our nets wide for the largest possible audience. And we fool ourselves into believing that each individual comprising that audience is mesmerized by the dazzling spectacle of a life so impressively lived.

But each individual comprising that audience is too distracted to take it all in because they are busy doing the exact same thing.

A life can be lived or it can be recorded, one always at the exclusion of the other. It can be lived or it can be translated into hyperbolic language. Multi-tasking is a nonsensical term. You can watch the watery russet sun sink beneath the horizon or you can catch a glimpse of it in your periphery and set to planning how you’ll express it in poetic verse. The choice is yours, but you can’t choose both.

Might it not be a welcome relief to reclaim our humanity with eyes that see beyond the range of our iPhones? With ears that hear beyond the insecure noise in our heads?

Are we people or are we cameras? Are we genuine souls or are we amateur advertising executives with a clientele of one?

Our refusal to scan for vistas whose foothills don’t begin inside our own narcissistic minds has cemented our stubbornly myopic worldview. If we can’t gloat over our moments of altruism and strokes of genius, then we aren’t interested in having them. All because we’ve never experienced the joy inherent in human connection and honest vulnerability. Not once in our lives have we allowed ourselves to be so open and curious. Evolution isn’t always fortuitous as it follows the path of least resistance, which is precisely where we choose to lead it. We are leading it into our machines and handheld devices which then become an extension of ourselves; indispensable gauges that tell us whether we’re being paid sufficient attention.

While I type these words, a squirrel runs along the wrought iron fence bordering the property. He stops, lifts his head and savors the light breeze for a long moment. A beautiful moment that will never be recorded by anyone save the blogging voyeur two stories up who’d rather talk of squirrels than accomplishments because it reinforces his carefully crafted public facade.


34 thoughts on “#Narcissus

  1. By the mere fact of noticing the squirrel and pausing to reflect on the event’s impact you have created a moment that others can share. Might be simple and small as events go, but any time we can pause to reflect, it brings us closer to something real…just sayin’

    So thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. “You can leave my apartment key on the davenport.” “Here?” “No, the davenport, The chesterfield.” “On this?” “No! Does that look like a divan to you?” “Here?” “Leave them on the chifferobe.” “You know what? Just take your fucking keys. I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When I was growing up, we used to visit my dad’s elder aunts. They called all of their furniture by the old-fashioned names, like the davenport. I remember being totally perplexed and asking my dad why they didn’t just call it a fucking couch.
        Is that Family Guy? It must be!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Geezus Paul, you make me shake my head anytime I read something you have written. I love the way you think, how you articulate your thoughts and how you make me feel. ‘A life can be lived or it can be recorded’ Are you kidding me? A-FUCKING-MEN. I love this so much. SO MUCH!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. That made me think of the Counting Crows song Daylight fading:

    “Waiting for the moon to come and light me up inside
    And I am waiting for the telephone to tell me I’m alive”

    If your reading blogs at least you can learn something from someone. Following Facebook all you learn is how screwed up people can be!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Agreed. I do not participate in any other form of today’s fauxsilizing (False socializing). Yeah just made that up. 😎 this medium, for me at least, exposes me to things that make me connect and examine further.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “If we can’t gloat over our moments of altruism and strokes of genius, then we aren’t interested in having them.” This is the absolute best way I’ve heard the modern phenomena of living one’s life to solely impress others described!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes! I was at a Reverend Horton Heat show a few years back when that ridiculous phenomenon dawned on me. About 75% of the crowd was watching the band through their phones, even though they paid the same $30 I did to get in the door and see them live on a stage. It saddened me. Well, that and the fact that at the same show, I also realized that for some screwed up reason, the hipster kids are drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon nowadays. This is a beer that I would only deign to imbibe as a flat-broke, underage swiller whose status as a beggar made me realize I couldn’t be a chooser.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “You can watch the watery russet sun sink beneath the horizon or you can catch a glimpse of it in your periphery and set to planning how you’ll express it in poetic verse. The choice is yours, but you can’t choose both.”

    The cost of creation is the moment, your own life.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow …. you really put it out there. (I’m new to the neighborhood.)
    I think I’m a few posts behind, but I have to meditate on things, because I’m too quick to play with the squirrel. The newest post is definitely going to take some time. In the meantime…. (you are going to hate having me as a follower, feel free to block at your convenience). Squirrel!!
    Narcissus …. I get it, I’m nervous for our young people, but they are so much smarter than I was at their age, they will figure it out, let them grow and learn just like we did. Honestly, I think it comes down to the root of selfishness. It was there when we were young, it exists now, and it will be a part of the next generation.
    Living that moment is awesome, but that photo I take will remind me of how I felt at that moment, that I’ve forgotten. The world will too soon remind us all the world dies not evolve around us, or me. And I’m okay with that.
    Your posts are stimulatingly frustrating, I would guess that is not a comment you haven’t heard before. I love you too, for now. : )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, thank you for taking the time to give me such great thoughts! And contrary to what you said, I already love having you as a follower (not to mention, I think your writing is fantastic). Go play with the squirrel. That’s what life is all about.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I already felt your graciousness, but I sincerely appreciate you extending it to me. Maybe I’ll see you at the playground again soon? : )

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Narcissus continued … (oh yea, there’s more) …
    I am a mother gifted with three extraordinary (although not perfect) sons. I recently wrangled them into going to see my visiting 98 yr old grandmother. During the 2 hr. visit I noticed they were only on their phones once, to research something we were discussing. They were attentive as she talked about being a checkcoat girl in the roaring 20’s for her uncle, who owned a gas station and dance hall. We laughed as she said she could dance pretty good too, She and her sister would trade off dancing and working. She then talked about marrying Oscar, my grandfather, who worked for the railroad. They lived on the train as it moved from place to place. He also loved playing guitar (and occasional drums) in local bands. I remember him as a tall, slender quiet man.
    My sons need to be reminded where they come from. That being respectful is showing love. She cried when we left, and I think I understand why. There is hope …

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Again, I’m late to the party and it seems all the best observations have been taken, but I’ll still say it: I love this. I’ve felt and thought so many of these things myself, and it’s always nice to know there are still people out there, scattered amongst the legions of social media zombies.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My greatest challenge is finding a way to balance the life well-lived with the life well-recorded. When I’m off the computer, I love every second of the crowded rooms, lifted spirits, and raucous laughs. When I’m on the computer, I love every second of the effort of fashioning hyperbolic language. I admit that, most of my life, I’ve spent my time consumed with far more of the former than the latter. I need balance. I need to watch the sunset and write about the sunrise.

    curmudgeon, glad I stumbled upon your works. You have an amazing gift of language!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think that sooner or later, we all find a balance we can live with. It sounds to me like when you write, that is a part of living, as opposed to ignoring it, and I think of it that way, too (usually). This is tough to get across in words, but that’s kind of cool. Lifted spirits, raucous laughter and sunset watching don’t really need words.

      Liked by 1 person

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