Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Awesome Humble Stranger

You know the scene in the movie where the humble stranger's true identity comes to light, and it's awesome?

Has anyone, in the hundred years of cinema (and the centuries of literature before that) ever considered that guy's lot in life for the eternity before the big reveal? And, for that matter, what about awesome humble strangers who go to their graves without revelation?

Put yourself in their shoes. Do you internally giggle whenever you're underestimated...for decades? That amused mega-confidence may persist for a few months, but at some point you'll accept the external world's view of you. We're wired to self-calibrate from social appraisal. When evidence conflicts with what we believe to be the truth, we either bend or we break, depending on how tightly we hold on to the so-called truth.

Insanity is the inability to reframe despite clear environmental cues. Perpetually ignoring every social cue while stubbornly maintaining a certain framing is the essence of cray-cray. Even if you're right.

The awesome humble stranger will either have gone crazy, or would long ago have let go of any notion of awesomeness. Either way, the truth comes to feel like a distant daydream, so, by the time the reveal happens, he'll have nothing left. He'll be as confused as anyone else. He won't accept the mission, or the crown, or the acclaim. Rather, he'll grab his bowl and head back out to the street to continue his begging, because dinnertime's coming. Not because he's crazy, but because he's sane.

We become who we pretend to be ("fake it till you make it"), and we pretend to be the person we frame ourselves as being, and that framing is a blend of social feedback, overall general temperament, and, incidentally, actuality.

This is loosely part two in the "Explaining Demented Old Coots" series. The previous explained why people lost in the desert won't eat your foie gras.

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