Do you remember that 1970s movie called, “The Way We Were,” with Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand? I didn’t see the movie, but I remember the title because Streisand sang the theme song on the radio, over and over and over.
I suppose it was a good movie, but if they re-made it today, I’d recommend a better title: “The Way We Weren’t.”
The older I get, the more I’m convinced that all our beliefs about ourselves – the way we think we are – are myths.
Let me explain a bit. We each have a mental image of ourselves, and we expect others to share it. So, when people tell me, “You look like Richard Dreyfuss,” I’m dumbfounded.
My first reaction is, “No. You mean Cary Grant, not Richard Dreyfuss. I look like Cary Grant.... right?” See, that’s my mental image. Cary Grant was cool; so, I want you to see me as cool, too.
“Richard Dreyfuss? The noisy guy from that shark movie? Isn’t he balding?”
Yes. It’s him, as several people have told me. No one – except me - has mentioned Cary Grant. Alas. My belief is a myth.
Here’s another example. I was dining out the other day, and some kids were trying to take their own group picture.
They looked like they could use some help, so I volunteered, thinking - but not saying, “Let a pro do this for you.”
See, I think I’m a pro because I’ve had a few photos published.
They handed me the camera-phone, but I couldn’t work out which button to press. In the process of figuring it all out, I almost dropped their device on the floor. I finally shot the photo, and walked away thinking, “Good move, Mr. Pro.” Another belief turned to myth.
I guess it’s a blessing to see yourself as you really are, being humbled by what you find. So, I don’t remind people of Cary Grant. So I almost broke a camera-phone while taking a picture. It’s all OK.
I’ll just build new beliefs about myself. Or maybe I’ll build new beliefs about Richard Dreyfuss, that handsome, wonderful, talented, whimsical actor everyone loves and adores. After all, since I remind people of him, he must be a lot cooler than I knew.
And those little camera-phones are slippery, dang it! I bet even the incredibly amazing Richard Dreyfuss would have fumbled that one.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.