I see him most days as I zip around the neighborhood. He’s been an Elvis look-alike, dress-alike for years, a clearly cultivated persona. This is not bloated Elvis, or flamboyant Elvis or even dying-on-the-toilet Elvis (was that a myth?). And he’s not even Army Elvis or daddy Elvis or “I’m with Priscilla” Elvis. This is generic Elvis. Elvis at his core without any of the drama going on.
Yesterday I saw him in all black, bell-bottom pants, and a wide white belt. No guitar. No sunglasses. But the haircut, the sideburns, the 70s-era duds and the swagger.
Usually he’s alone, and he seems quiet. I talk to strangers often but he doesn’t seem particularly open to that so I’ve left him alone.
On Halloween the local drugstore has him hand out candy at the neighborhood’s sidewalk party for kids. That’s my only evidence that he admits he’s Elvis-y.
Though his whole life looks like it has been — for years at least — about being Elvis. So I imagine if I talked to him, I’d find out that he does “admit that he’s Elvis-y.”
But… he’s not Elvis. And neither am I. And neither are you.
And I’ve been thinking about what it feels like to define ourselves by who we wish we were or admire or by who we model ourselves after. When in reality, whatever you are, you’re NOT that. Cause you’re you.
How obvious is this? On one hand it doesn’t even bear writing about. You could hit the “trite/delete” button and just go on with your day.
But I’m thinking about all the things I’ve done in my life to have people think I’m something that I’m not. Or things I do so that people will know who I actually am… but that could just happen without an audience, without so much studied self-awareness or desire for others’ affirmation.
I was with a friend in another country recently. And she was telling me that she is most at home there (not her native country) and that her heart has been drawn there since she was young. She said that when she’s anywhere else, she’s thinking about who she is and how she’s doing in her interactions with people and in her moving about, but when she’s in her adopted homeland she just IS. And feels free.
That made so much sense to me. Sometimes we find that homeland with geography. Sometimes we find that homeland with particular people. That’s something I’ve found as I’ve come to be able to imagine that some people actually like who I am.
It’s getting more and more possible to just be me, in the crap and in the beauty. I’m full of both. Nothing unusual. And it’s normal and okay.
That realization makes it less and less necessary for me to be so “out there,” so focused on my persona, so adamant that I am an INDIVIDUAL, so pushy in my desire to say something meaningful to help somebody or to be a solution to something (HA!), to overshare personal stuff so as to be the poster child for risk and vulnerability, or to need to have my energy and passion flit and fly all over the place.
I’m not knocking Elvis; I’m a fan. Nor am I knocking “Not Elvis”; he’s a neighbor. In fact I hope I meet him. And his story may be totally different than I thought. Or he may really be Elvis. What do I know?
But I am thinking about how much I tend to define myself by what I’m not, or by what I am, when really I want to just BE and not think so damn much about myself either way.
That would be a real trip to GRACEland.