Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Who Do You Think You Are?

How can you not like country music? It is just rock and roll with a twang. And the lyrics, sometimes they are so clever. I mean, the Toby Keith song, “I’m not as good as I once was but I’m as good once as I ever was,” that’s just meaningful to anyone with a four or greater in the tens column of their age.

So I heard old Toby back on the radio just the other day, evidently with a new song. This one says:

All week long I’m a real nobody
But I just punched out and it’s paycheck Friday
Weekend’s here good God almighty
I’m gonna get drunk & be somebody.

You may or may not have noticed a quote that has been in my sidebar for awhile now, from J.D. Salinger, “[Have] the courage to be an absolute nobody.” That’s been on my fridge for quite some time now. Probably because it has taken me so long to absorb its layers of meaning, I doubt most other people really get it very much, the courage of being a nobody. Even after years it is something I still only fleetingly see how I can manifest it.

So what does it mean to “be somebody”? Just as illusional/delusional as being drunk and being somebody vs. being a big fat nobody when you aren’t drunk. “Being somebody” always depends not on what you yourself think but on what someone else thinks.

So to be nobody is to not depend on what anyone else thinks but being who you truly are, without an audience; who you are when nobody is looking.

So who do you think you are?


madcapmum said...

Yeah, I noticed the quote, and it's one of the best yet.

I read a Jewish folk story about 15 years ago, called "Bonshe the Silent". It's all about a man who goes from cradle to grave never calling attention to himself, never insisting on notice for anything. It made a big impression on me then, but I've never been able to track it down since.

And my dearly beloved, who'll be putting a "5" in his 10s column in a couple years, sings that song all the time. I've never heard the whole thing, though. ;-).

the Contrary Goddess said...

What? You don't LISTEN to country music radio? They do have such things in Canada don't they? It isn't all Gordon Lightfoot and Ann whatshername is it? (smile)

Joe Tornatore said...

for the longest time I had a quote hanging at my office. It read, "Ethics is what we do when nobody is looking." kind of similar.

madcapmum said...

Do they have country radio? Sometimes I think there's nothing else!

I rarely listen to radio, though, and when I do it's public so I can find out what's going on in the world. I hate being advertised at! As soon as the radio goes on, my kids go up at least 10 decibels to overcome it; hardly soothing background noise.

Anonymous said...

Public radio so you can find out what's going on in the world ....

Madcap, you're such a kidder!

madcapmum said...

Eleutheros, you're such a cheeky man!

Canadian public radio is untainted by the foul breath of bias, and is a pure and holy emanation arising from the frigidly upright Canadian soul. All CBC announcers are virgins. They pass through the cleansing fires of elocution lessons and a rigorously enforced regimen of oral hygiene before they're even allowed filing priveleges in the CBC archive buildings. After many years of faithful adherence to the standards outlined by the Order of the Driven Snow, they might, if selected by lot as one of the fortunate few, be allowed to read the traffic report on the local 5 p.m. news show.

Parrothead said...

C.G.: Is that the same meaning as Dr. Phil's "Authenic Self"? (Remember I'm not the brightest light bulb shining.)

Why, when you say "I'm a nobody", do people try to "build up your ego"? I find ego, speaking for myself only, doesn't need anymore inflated, thank you.

And how are you all doing? Love and kisses sent your way!!

Jim said...


This is another one of your posts that speaks straight into me.

That quote, by a quite famous somebody I might add, speaks so clearly because it reminds us that maybe we're not whole within ourselves, and that it requires stength, and ethics, to be so.

I hear J. D. Salinger speaking to himself there, like we speak to ourselves through our blogs in such a public way, and I hear Toby Keith too, reminding himself, and others, that he once was a nobody, and still is when he really thinks about it.

These things are meaningful to us I believe, because we often long for some wholeness that we don't always feel.

It's maybe why we invent gods, heavens and everlasting life, because we don't want to be a nobody when we die.

Ego and vanity are, of human nature, like the laying of eggs is, of a chicken.

Oh, look what I've done, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck cluck.

I am a nobody, future worm food, that will soon blend back into the matrix of the cosmos, with the rest of the food and energy that churns here.

But I've noticed that all of us nobody's like to quote somebody's as if maybe we knew something that someone else doesn't. Something that might make us special, that we think needs to be shared, but then again, we're probably just talking to ourselves.

I'm a fool among fools, and all of us are nobody's, but a lot of these foolish nobody's are somebody to me.

And I guess that makes me somebody, to them.

Country music is some of the best, I listen to a lot of Hank Williams, Merle Travis, Hank Snow, Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, but that's just because I'm 60 and those guys speak to my time I guess.

But the very best country music is played on front porches, Debs, Eleutheros, yours, mine, anywhere, by unplugged nobodies.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Jim, you tickle me with your nobody self. But I think that is one of the koans of somebody/nobody -- so seek to be somebody is to be a nobody (like the weekend drunk is a real nobody), and to seek to be a real nobody (that is, to have no care what others think of you), that is to be a real somebody to some others.

And ph, yes, I think the idea is akin to "authentic self". I really like Joe's quote about ethics. Why do you think Jesus said to pray in the closet, not in the fast food restaraunt? Because it is who you are in the closet is who you are. It is easy to be thankful for bullshit in the fast food restaraunt but in the closet all those secret desires and trespasses bubble forth.

Anyway . . .

Anonymous said...

MadCap:"Canadian public radio is untainted by the foul breath of bias, and is a pure and holy emanation arising from the frigidly upright Canadian soul."

Wow! Your garden must really be fertile.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm a nobody, but my daughter (who's 10) thinks I'm a somebody.

(My son, on the other hand, who is 14, agrees with my assessment...)

madcapmum said...

Eleu: Canadians perform special Spring Fertility Rites to overcome the frost of soil and soul, very secret, lots of goosebumps.

Karen Bennett said...

I know I am a nobody but I think I have somebody potential. If I never become a somebody in eyes of the world, I think I will be content with living a nobody life. I have love, peace and health. I am a happy nobody.

This is my first visit to your blog. I love it. You make me think.

sheila jo said...

I'm proud of all of you "nobodies." You make me happy :) Thank you!

the Contrary Goddess said...

HA! Everybody has somebody potential, since it is all one big drunk illusion. Becoming disillusioned is a GOOD thing!

And playfully being delusional, like MadCap, adds lots of humus to the soil.

dragonfly183 said...

Eleutheros and madcap you guys crack me up !!!!!

Flourish & Blotts said...

The nobody we are exists in our own minds and is a constant reminder that you've gotta love yourself because you're the only one who'll always be with you. Love this thread! -Flourish

Anonymous said...

One stanza of the Rubaiyyat goes:

"If the cup you drink, the lip you press
End in the nothing all things end in, yes,
Imagine while thou art, that thou art nothing.
Thou shalt not be less!"

Another translation of the same verse says:

"Khayyám, though drunk, lift up thy cheerful voice,
Be happy with the darling of thy choice;
If in the end of things thou must be naught,
Imagine thou art nothing now. Rejoice!"

Yet I suspect this is not what the CG had in mind. The Hindu mystics teach that we are befuddled by three great illusions that in fact do no exist: Time, Space, and Self. Any conclusions we come to based on any of the three are purely delusional.

Then to be nobody is simply to recognize that the Self does not exist, it is only an illusion.

the Contrary Goddess said...

hip hip & hooray, finally someone who understands this nobody stuff.

I'd like to read MadCap's story.

Maybe I'll get a new post up before too long but then again, maybe I'm getting good at this being a nobody bit.