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"The notion that each of us holds the responsibility to turn each frown upside-down amounts to the most insidious form of despotism."

Between acts in Elizabethan theater, some character might take center stage and commence to speak. He might appear to hold forth on subjects unrelated to the performance, though the curious magic of theater tends to lend a grave significance to anything taking center stage, rendering it at least allegorical if not somehow central to the deeper meaning of the performance. These metalogues might have carried no deeper significance other than to mirror real life between the obvious artifices of the actual play, for we each confide stories to ourselves while waiting for the next act to mount the stage. I believe that these stories, often overlooked, hold subtle cues to making meaning of life.

As a writer, only a few of my more choice stories ever manage to make it into any sharable form.
Above and beside these scripts, I maintain an unending metalogue so persistent and present that I often fail to hear what I'm saying to myself. These stories repeat themselves, replicating old memes in new circumstances, often no more than barely audible background noise, too-conveniently ignored. Occasionally, though, I'll stop and listen and sometimes learn something I probably already knew but had somehow forgotten in the noise and bustle of my performance life. A single voice, stage-whispering if not deep truths, at least useful insights. My deeper fears and hopes comfortably co-exist there, informing what I experience as my gut-feel responses to the situations I encounter. I mostly seem to be who these quiet confidences tell me I am.

I suspect that the universe might turn inside out if I were to confide the content of my metalogue beyond its intended audience of one. Being meta, it seems bound to conflict with any particular context within which I might disclose it. Others might feel moved to try to talk me out of my deepest convictions, citing lousy excuses like that I'm deluding myself, confusing myself, or limiting the full expression of my true self. You know, the usual new-age bullshit. Of course all that new-age bullshit is probably accurate within some context. I don't doubt that The Stories I Tell Myself do, in fact, limit my reach and inhibit my grasp, though they doubtless also inform it. They needn't all be positive and self-affirmative to prove useful. The purpose of my performance isn't to transcend but instantiate myself. My metalogue tacitly extends my presence, though the audience never hears what it's continually whispering in my ear.

Gregory Bateson insisted that birds do not break into song because they have an answer. They seem to sing as a matter of their nature. The Stories I Tell Myself seem to hold a similar character. Like the tunes I preconsciously hum to myself, they serve as more inspiration than information, more reassuring than directing. They simply are. Of course, on those occasions when I slow down and listen to these stories, they unerringly serve to inform me in some satisfyingly unwanted way. Yea, I know I hold a barely subconscious grudge about that. Yes, I deeply fear that other thing. These have been parts of my story since I started noticing The Stories I Tell Myself, I'd hardly know how to perform should I somehow transform them all into positive affirmation. The notion that each of us holds the responsibility to turn each frown upside-down amounts to the most insidious form of despotism.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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