I had a woman yesterday call me clever and confident. I was flattered, naturally, but as I do found myself afterwards pondering what she meant.
I accept without too much bother that I’m clever. It seems the general consensus regardless. In general terms I think I’m confident, and more expressly, that I give off the impression of confidence. That’s important. As I pondered it further I tried to figure out the technicalities of it. I’m positive, I thought. I have self-belief. But why, how? What is it I’m confident of? It was a question that begged an answer.
When I think about it it’s a central question of my existence. Seems to me I’m always resolving the answer to that, without ever coming to a resolution. These pages really cover that backwards and forwards. That’s probably the biggest reason I write this. This blog is an exploration. It’s an attempt by me to make sense of the world, and life, and myself, in the passing considerations and reflections day by day. I’m made to think, and having thought, attempt to impose order and logic by putting it into words. What does it all mean though, in its entirety?
Identity. Self. These are strong themes for me. Like everyone I take things for granted sometimes, but I’m also very aware that I’m alive. There are few days when I’m not tinged by some of the wonder of existence. I watch a science program and am awed by the possibilities of physics say, much of which is mind-blowing. I wander out the back yard while Rigby takes a pee and look up at the distant stars shine and wonder what their secrets are – and contemplate how some being circling one of those stars might be looking at our distant sun and wondering the same thing. There are mysteries everywhere. And – as I wrote the other day – I am moved almost to tears by expressions of genius on our own planet. These are wonderful, wonderful things, and I feel so grateful not just to live among it, but to appreciate it. It’s a gift.
Then there’s little ol’ me. I’m one of billions. My life is big to me, but small to the cosmos. I have a dog, friends, and a life I’m trying to reconstruct. I have aspirations and ambitions, mostly because it’s there inside me, but driven knowing that I’m minuscule and wanting to be more than that.
I’m an individual, and I’m probably more aware of that because I’m a single man. I’m not diluted by being a husband and father, or subsumed being part of a family. I have no other identity than my very own. My hopes are directed towards very personal goals, most of which give expression to who I am.
That’s how I can appear confident. When I think about it confidence is quite ethereal. For me there are things I want to be and do. I’m pretty clear-headed about that. The confidence, I guess, is believing that I can make it so. What other people see though is clarity of purpose. They take that for confidence because it appears unusual, and because it sets me apart. What they deem to be confidence is actually the illusory by-product of determination. It’s a veneer. Purpose equates to confidence, even when they’re different things.
I’m not denying I’m confident. I have confidence in the small things. I’m confident I can survive most setbacks. I’m confident that I’ll blitz the training I’m in. I’m confident in most of the ways I have some control over – but that leaves a lot. What I have is a kind of belief, and a determination to keep going in the absence of any alternative. And the knowledge – and this is crucial – that one day I will die. I want to make it count, and I want to do it as well as I can.
All of this comes back to the woman who paid me that compliment, and the others before her impressed by my alleged confidence. Confidence is an attractive quality. I’ve set myself this year to get amongst it again. There’s someone in the office I’ve already begun to flirt with. And today, I think, I will be changing my online profile. I get a lot of hits because it’s well written and real – and because I seem clever and confident. I’m going to undercut that today. I’m going to put it out there – that I’m a failure striving to succeed again. I’ve got nothing to offer except what’s inside me.
That’s not confidence, but truth. It’s knowing it that makes me seem confident.