After yesterday’s post, Zach added this little nugget in the comments section:
My concern is the culture that has brewed around the Vinyl. The feeling expressed in High fidelity, of going into a record store and being viewed as a lesser soul, a cultural boob, for not listening to vinyl or knowing the latest obscure indie band. Why of all things has music become a hierarchical culture?
While I’d love to dive into that last sentence alone, I’m saving that for another day. It’s really all those other words that got my mind all-a-churning. Maybe it was Zach’s High Fidelity reference and the fact that the title of the post was named after the store that the movie was based on. But more than likely it was the fact that I had just had my first real record store experience a couple of weeks ago. The place here in North Little Rock should charge for admission. It’s that entertaining of an experience.
When you walk in, there’s a rope dividing the check-out counter from the rest of the store. There’s also signs everywhere telling you to take off your jacket, purse, duffel bag, backpack, socks, underwear, chest hair, belly button, etc. This place doesn’t want you stealing their stuff. Understandable. One record may look just like another but be worth 50x as much…as I learned when asking about a little Bob Dylan record I’d picked out for myself. It looked nice enough, but apparently the liner notes had some rare note written by Dylan’s ex-girlfriend that made this thing a collector’s item. Whoops. A little too nice. I’m going to just set that back on the shelf now.
I realized pretty soon in this experience that I was out of my element. Besides washing my hair too regularly for this crowd, I also obviously couldn’t tell the difference between a $5 copy of Blonde on Blonde and a $50 version. I knew, quickly, that I couldn’t take myself too seriously in this setting. There’d be no pretending. No acting like I knew what I was doing. No carrying on discreetly like I’m not the tourist-with-the-camera-around-my-neck. Which brings me directly to the point of this post: that’s never easy for me. I take myself way too seriously. Seriously, way too often. For some of you that know me, that may come as a surprise. I can be light hearted. Carefree. Relaxed. Most of the time. But the other slice of time? Well…let’s just say my wife’s eyes are already rolling.
While in Ireland recently on our 5-year wedding anniversary trip, I’d constantly find myself fighting this fight. While getting off a bus downtown, I hesitated to ask anyone for directions. We had a map. There were street signs everywhere (Even if it took us half the morning to find them. But honestly, who puts street signs on the corners of buildings?). We were in no rush. Let’s just figure it out. Right? Wrong. Before I knew it, my wife had turned on that sweet, southern accent and was asking a little old lady for help. My bride was incredibly kind and grateful. I was looking the other way. For some reason, I didn’t want anyone there to think of me as a tourist. There were several times on that trip alone where I felt my pride puffed up like a rooster’s chest for no apparent reason. I had it in my head that I didn’t want to be seen as a dumb American on holiday. I wanted to just blend in. Why? Because I can be a flat-out idiot. Seriously.
I could share plenty of more everyday examples. From only wearing t-shirts in public that I deem cool enough to never wanting little marriage tiffs in the grocery store to ever approach anything above whisper-yelling…I’m telling you, sometimes I just can’t get out of my own way. Instead of just living in the moment, I’m all too self-aware and self-conscious. Is there any benefit from all of this? In a word: nope. It only takes away. Always.
Due to a recent post by a writer I love and respect, I decided not to post my New Year’s Resolutions out in the open here. His words called me out pretty abruptly. But there’s one that I’m not too afraid to put up on the blog:
In 2011, I want to take myself less seriously.
I want to laugh with people, even those laughing at me. I want to take down my guard and be a dumb tourist. I want to continue to walk around that record store, asking for help at every corner. Even if it means the cool couple in their skinny jeans and Lou Reed albums doesn’t consider me one of their own.
Who knew that vinyl, of all things, would lead me here? Would lead me to giving up, giving in, letting go. To not having a care in the world about the me I’m trying to present to the world. To just being present. To just being me.