Vis-Ability

TheInvisibleMan
"Even The Invisible Man has his moments, or those moments have him."

Contrary to the number of FaceBook posts I make every day, I consider myself to be an intensely private man. I stopped using my Twitter account about the same time Our President started over-using his. I forgot my LInkedIn password and feel no great compulsion to remember it since its curious user interface required me to relearn how to use it every time I logged in and I admit that I never understood what it was intended to be there for, other than to broadcast the superficial specifications favored by curricula vitae, the most superficial sort of personal characterizations. Instagram couldn't capture my interest. I've lately created a private FaceBook Group where I post the bulk of my stuff to people I've specifically invited to receive it. I'm nobody's self-promoter in a culture which seems absolutely obsessed with self-promotion.

I've always preferred bounded solitude, comforted by the certain knowledge that others were nearby but not in my face.
As a child, I was known to excuse myself from my own birthday party so that I could celebrate it upstairs where I could hear everyone else rubbing shoulders but wouldn't risk any bruising myself. I'm that nearly invisible presence in the corner of the coffeeshop, focused upon my laptop screen, in his own world. I consider a visit to the library a major outing, a visit to the supermarket, as close as I usually come to a social event. Home, for me, is first a place where I can reliably find myself at home. Days when The Muse works from home, I catch myself creeping around the place searching for my solitude, and might choose to go find my anonymity elsewhere, like in a coffeehouse somewhere.

The Muse and I recently shared a house with three others attending a conference, and I surprised myself with my own congeniality there. Mornings and evenings, others would be reliably underfoot, but late mornings and through long afternoons, I found a fine, hole-like isolation there. I ventured out a few times to wander the neighborhood like The Invisible Man, hardly noticed by those I strolled past. Even on a crowded streetcar, I seemed to take up little space and surprised my seat mate when I stood like a camouflaged sniper to exit and escape the steaming crush. I could have been a spy. The sort who passes by without rustling a leaf or catching even a watchful eye.

My birth family probably taught me the finer points of this superpower. With five kids, anyone who could disappear by simply standing sideways was prized. Anyone not really hungry when suppertime came around meant just that much more for everyone else around the table. I went into a performing profession, a seemingly curious choice for anyone as obviously introverted as I seem to be. I could become invisible to myself while performing before a crowded auditorium, and never could believe any adoration my performance might garner, me having not really been there through it and all. My therapist has long complained about my near absence of ego, a highly-prized attribute in a Zen monastery, I guess, but a puzzling one in any culture obsessed with self-promotion. I've honestly tried to build up my ego, suffering through a few exercises which fully qualified as the polar opposite of mindfulness training. I could muster short bursts, like the time when I role-played Hillary Clinton, complete with BIG hair and a paper bustier, but I find these excursions exhausting and inauthentic. I can work any room, but require intensive care following these experiences.

Now, I find myself needing to more effectively promote what I produce, and I have a small army of thoughtful advisors counseling me. I can mostly make sense of their advice, but still struggle to actually embody it. I so naturally fade into the background that doing otherwise feels phony. The Muse, returning from a recent workshop, took me by the shoulders, peered into my eyes, and asked if I was "a dude." Her workshop convener was most definitely a dude, but she'd watched me cook a couple of suppers and perform a couple of songs to our housemates that week, and wondered where that congenial and insightful presence usually hung out. Even The Invisible Man has his moments, or those moments have him. Not necessarily born to the stage, when he finds himself there, even he can briefly take charge. You can reliably tell if I'm home because nobody seems to be there.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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