Cultivate an Air of Mystery Part II
Before this week's post begins, I would like to send my hope and prayers to the people of Japan. If you are looking for a way to help (and are in America) you can text REDCROSS to 90999 and $10 will automatically be donated from your phone bill and go towards the relief effort in Japan...
And now for this week's post...
In my ongoing quest to not tell every person I come in contact with my life story (i.e. cultivating an air of mystery), I have been doing a lot of experimenting. Every day is an opportunity to cultivate an air of mystery and for me it really does take daily practice. One must become comfortable with silence when amongst other people, and learn how to cope with it- in a way that is specific for you.
There is a neighbor of mine who is quite mysterious that travels a lot and is often out of town. He has his air of mystery mastered because whenever I see him he alludes to his travels but does not tell me what he does for a living (and, as the French do, I would never think to ask). But inevitably when he asks me how I am I say something lame and unmysterious and laugh shrilly. Not because I am interested in him particularly, but because this is what I do with everybody. It is a malady of mine.
So one day I decided to practice cultivating my air of mystery with my mysterious neighbor. I saw him while I was taking Gatsby out for his morning walk. I had the baby strapped to my chest in the Baby Bjorn, and Gatsby on his leash. It had been a particularly long night of not sleeping with the baby (teething) so I employed one of my techniques of ‘looking presentable always’ by putting a long coat over my pajamas. I must have looked silly because it was about 80 degrees outside and there I was in a winter coat complete with baby and dog- but never mind. At least I wasn’t in my pajamas.
This is how our conversation went:
“Hello,” said the mysterious neighbor (from here on out known as MN)
“Hello”, said I (from here on out known as DC for daily connoisseur)
MN: “How are you?”
DC: “I’m great, thank you. How are you?”
MN: “Life is treating me well. And you are you happy?”
DC: “Yes, very. I haven’t seen you recently, you must have been traveling”.
MN: “I have. Doing a lot of traveling and a lot of work”.
DC: “How wonderful. It was lovely to see you”.
MN: “And you”.
DC: “Good bye”.
Now keep in mind this conversation was peppered with looonnng pauses- which was excruciating for me. But I stuck with it and was rather pleased with the result. Nothing of substance was said, but in these particular circumstances, things of substance aren’t generally said anyway. I have a close circle of friends who know my life story and day to day occurrences, and with whom I can have substantial conversations with, but for relative strangers and passers-by (like my neighbor), I would like to remain mysterious.
That’s why this exercise was very important for me. Normally at the first sign of silence I would have laughed shrilly (i.e. uncomfortably) and said something to my neighbor about the weather or apologized for my appearance or made a joke about how the baby is teething and I am a zombie on 4 hours of sleep. But I just stayed with it. Good for me…
I would love to know… how is your air of mystery coming along?
The folded arm figures pictured above date back to 2,700 B.C. and are quite mysterious in their own right. Scholars have conjectured they could represent everything from concubines, to ritual dancers, to goddesses and symbols of fertility. They are featured at the Getty Villa in Malibu.