Elvin’s Exorcism

I’ll try something different today. Instead of attempting without success to craft a wannabe witty stream-of-consciousness screed, I’ll explain myself. My name is Elvin and I live inside a body that is not my own. I use it because it is not being used by its rightful owner and I do not have one of my own.

I am the outcome of an imperfect combination of mood and muscle, tempered with sufficient fat to hide the muscle and accentuate the mood. In my case, mood is a stand-in for personality. I learned early on that, in the absence of personality, one is essentially invisible. So I focused on mood, instead. Moods can be seen, felt, and—when either appropriate or fruitful—feared. Good moods almost make up for the lack of personality. Bad moods hide the absence of same. Together, they impersonate personality. But they’re not personality.

Moods are simply manifestations of temporary states of emotional flux. They arise from battles between competing neurons; they are simply mechanical responses to chemical reactions. Personality, on the other hand, is an elastic fabric woven from threads of emotion, intellect, and experience, with threads of experience constituting the bulk of the finished cloth. Extract from me my moods and you would be left with the equivalent of a permanently locked piece of heavy luggage without wheels. Take away someone else’s personality and you’d have a fresh, clean canvas ready to receive an artist’s brush.

I’m deviating from my explanation of myself. I do that sometimes for reasons that have to do with my fear of revealing who I am without my moods. If I were able to spend time with an exceptionally capable psychologist or psychiatrist or both, I could learn more about my fears and what caused them. And I could learn about the body I occupy, the body that belongs to someone else who is in the unfortunate position of having neither moods nor personality. He is, I am afraid, not a fresh canvas but, instead, a dry-erase board that has been so thoroughly stained by the use of permanent markers that it is impossible to know who he was or is or could have been. There I go again, drifting away from my intended train of thought. I do that sometimes; wander down tracks that lead away from facts that are too difficult to face in the light of day.

When you look in the mirror, you see a reverse image of your face. When I look in the mirror, I see an unfamiliar man whose physical image is radically different from the one I expect to see. He is not the man whose body I occupy but, instead, a pasty-faced stranger whose jowls reveal an obsession with food and an allergy to exercise. The man whose body I occupy should be lean and chiseled were that the one I were to see in the mirror. His face would be naturally tan, with laugh lines around his eyes and dimples in his cheeks caused by his perpetual smile. At least that’s what I think. I’ve never really seen him. I’m just guessing about his appearance. Hoping, maybe. Wishing. If I had a personality, I’d be able to sculpt that image myself, because personalities can consistently command daily routines that can mold a person’s appearance. Moods, on the other hand, simply ricochet off windows and walls, changing with the frequency of a second hand on a clock. That chaotic whirlwind from good to bad to good to bad and back again makes progress impossible.

It’s interesting that we call moods good and bad. In reality, all moods are bad. They distract from a person’s underlying personality (assuming he has one), creating surface stress that can crack the veneer most of us use as a hiding place. Moods reveal the churning lives behind our masks.

Well, my attempt to explain myself has gone completely haywire. Off the tracks. Derailed so completely that the cars cannot possibly reach their destination. The fabric of the tale has become ripped and frayed and tattered.

Elvin blew it. Mea culpa. It was an ignoble effort gone further afield, deeper into the bowels of Hell. My attempt to explain myself was a ruse, wasn’t it? It was simply a way to exercise (or is that exorcise?) my fingers. Arthritic fingers. A symptom of personality disappearance.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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