20. An explainer from an awkward molar

“There’s something I became convinced of ages ago, even when I was still living at home, and it was that while there’s the ‘yourself’ who’s parading around that everyone else sees and gets to know, there’s also the ‘yourself’ that isn’t so obvious, but who’s always present and you don’t really get away from all your life, not even for a minute. It’s sort of like there’s the public ‘you’ and the private ‘you’, one of those ‘same same but different’ scenarios, like it’s the same flavour but a variation to it.

“I was thinking about how to tell the difference, I mean if I had to explain what the difference is to someone. I mean, we’re just ourselves so what’s to explain, you’d think. But like I said, I became convinced that there is something to explain, about these two observers to this life. Getting down to the real issue at stake here might be like trying to describe the difference between ‘nuanced’ and ‘subtly different’, maybe trying to explain that to someone who doesn’t speak English very well.

“Then again maybe one way to get somewhere near describing the flavour variation that I’m talking about is like when I brush my teeth — which sounds strange, but I’ll explain. To anyone else it would be obvious that I’m brushing my teeth and that after doing that they would be cleaned and feel fresh all over. But I know that in behind one of the molars on the left side, the upper molar on the left, there’s a part of that tooth that’s really hard to get to, or at least the action needed with the toothbrush to get behind there is a little more involved than just brushing around like with the rest of my teeth. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but I’m sold on the idea that to really get to it I need to do some convolutions with my mouth and cheek, and sneer up the top lip on that side. It’s not pretty,” (it’s hilarious) “and it’s not something I’d do if anyone were watching. But it’s something that I know myself, if I want to get to that difficult place on the inner base of my upper left molar, I tend to have to pull some faces. Well, maybe I don’t have to, but that’s the thought I have, and the actions I take, if I want to convince myself that that area has really been given a proper brushing. Anyway, that’s a part of the difference.

“So there’s the me that people see and know, and then there’s the me that’s just mine, the one that feels the need to pull a face sometimes. And only I know that information, just me… I mean just the private me. And I know that this principal observer is the one I can trust, most of all, to be absolutely truthful. There’s no bullshit in here, there’s no denying or making excuses. There’s no-one to impress. So the first self of these is the one that I know will reliably have the right opinion and give the most truthful assessment of everything I do and think.

“And it’s not so much of a self-centred thing, more a self-honest acknowledgement, because there’s no posing going on… no posturing or ‘character’ to live up to. And I think it’s good to have that reliability — even if I don’t always listen.”

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