In My Mind

I heard this song by Amanda Palmer a few days ago, and it really stuck with me. I’ve listened to it over and over since then, which is what I do with all the songs I love. It’s called “In My Mind.” Here is the video:

I think the reason it struck me so much is that the person Palmer describes wanting to be in five years is pretty much the person I am.

In my mind
In a future five years from now
I’m a hundred and twenty pounds
And I never get hung over

Because I
Will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I’m in
And I will be someone I admire

I’m about five years older than Palmer, and I’m a hundred and twenty pounds, and I never do get hung over because you know, I’m a college professor and a glass of wine is pretty much my limit. And there are ways in which I am the picture of discipline, although that’s mostly from the outside, because it doesn’t necessarily feel like that from the inside.

And it’s funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I’ve just forgotten how
To see
That I’m not exactly the person that I thought I’d be.

I don’t think I was this person five years ago. I think I was a lot more confused, a lot more afraid, not at all sure I could do what I wanted in the world.

And in my mind
In the far-away here-and-now
I’ve become in-control somehow
And I never lose my wallet

Because I
Will be the picture of discipline
Never fucking-up anything
And I’ll be a good defensive driver

I never do lose my wallet, and I am a good defensive driver. I think my last speeding ticket was twenty years ago. I’ve been pulled over three times since then, once for running a red light, once for not yielding, once for turning into a one-way street the wrong way – all accidentally, and each time I apologized profusely, and each time the policeman warned me sternly and then let me go.

And it’s funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I’ve just forgotten how
To see
That I’ll never be the person that I thought I’d be.

So I guess the question is, did I become the person that I wanted to be? And I suppose the answer is, partly. I’m less confused, less afraid. But my life still looks a lot neater from the outside then it does from the inside. Being the picture of discipline doesn’t necessarily mean you are actually always disciplined. There are parts of my life that are still very much a mess.

And in my mind
When I’m old I am beautiful,
Planting tulips and vegetables
Which I will mindfully watch over

Not like me now
I’m so busy with everything
That I don’t look at anything
But I’m sure I’ll look when I am older

I’ve planted tulips and vegetables in the past. And sometimes I want to be the person who plants tulips and vegetables, who lives a sort of calm and gracious life. But I’m so busy with everything that there’s no time, not even to look around me some days. So actually I’m in the same place Palmer is, in the song. Despite never getting hung over or losing my wallet, despite being a good defensive driver.

And it’s funny how I imagined
That I could be that person now
That that’s not what I want
But that’s what I wanted
That I’d be giving up somehow
How strange to see
That I don’t want to be the person that I want to be.

So I guess the question is, what do I really want? Because there have been times in my life when I thought I wanted to be the woman who planted tulips and vegetables. And I still dream of that sometimes. But my life is so full, even though sometimes it feels like a merry-go-round that is moving too fast. I don’t think I could give up the messiness of it.

Sometimes we think we want to be one person, and we end up becoming another person, and it’s because that’s the person we always wanted to be anyway.

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren’t really happening
And when they put me in the ground

I’ll start pounding the lid,
Saying, “I haven’t finished yet,
I still have a tattoo to get,
It says, ‘I’m living in the moment.'”

I’ll never get a tattoo. I used to say it was because I don’t like pain, but that’s not the issue. If I could pass the New York and Massachusetts Bar exams, I can take a tattoo. It’s because I don’t like permanence, and as soon as I got one, I would change my mind and want something else. I don’t want to make a decision about who I am, what represents me, that is supposed to last the rest of my life.

And it’s funny how I imagined
That I could win this win-less fight
Maybe it isn’t all that funny
That I’ve been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it’s funny
If I want to live before I die
And maybe it’s funniest of all
To think I’ll die before I actually
That I am exactly the person that I want to be.

I think we become the people we actually want to be, for good or ill. So we have to stop and think about who we are, why we want to be that way, at least at a particular point in our lives. When I look back, I realize that I’ve made choices, all the way, that made me into a different person than the person I thought I wanted to be. Instead of tulips and vegetables, I have a PhD and a writing career.

(It is funny, isn’t it?  Everything we go through.  I do feel as though I’ve been fighting all my life, partly with myself.)

I chose the mess and pain of getting here. I chose the life I have now, and the person I am.

When I think about where I want to be five years from now, that’s where I have to start.

Remember, if you want to enter Book Giveaway #1, look for the rules below.  And I didn’t make this clear, but yes, you can enter from any country.  If you win, I’ll find a way to get you the books!

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2 Responses to In My Mind

  1. Thank you.

    For both your comments and particularly her lyrics.

    Describes exactly where I am as well….
    Pleasant knowing that I have companions on this journey.
    The Chaucer scholar in me embraces this warmly, joyously, and with a wry smile.

  2. emily says:

    I’ve been listening to this song on repeat lately. And then I remembered you wrote a blog post about it. That’s the struggle for me: who I am now versus who I think I’ll be in the future. It’s good to be ambitious and to look forward. But at the same time, who I am now is probably exactly who I’m meant/want to be now.

    Post Script: I’ve lost my wallet/ID twice within the past year after never having lost my wallet . . . -_\

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