July 01 2009 12:00 AM EST
November 17 2015 6:13 AM EST
I am a creature of introspection, an internal being who navigates the frantic waters of the external world by exploring the deep depths of my personal tides. I am always looking within, always searching inside, asking the questions, "Who am I?" "How can I be better?" "How do I feel?" "What do I know to be true?" "Am I being honest?" "What do I believe?" "What does God think of me?" "Who would I be if all that defined me changed?" and "How can I still be beautiful?" And now for something different: "No man is an island unto himself." Or so I've been told. According to the story line in The Matrix, the world is not designed by our perceptions alone but is a complex network of wires and switches where each component contributes to the creation of the whole. And sometimes we are told what to feel. Now, I obviously don't (completely) believe in a movie's description of existential existence, but for some reason lately so many of my conversations with friends, family, and loved ones have been about how the world perceives them and how that perception is negatively affecting their lives. And to be honest, it's really hard for me to relate. Here I am: queer, black, poor, and dying of HIV (not really, but that's what most people think), and there are people around me who think their life is meaningless, horrible, and hopeless because they are fat or losing their hair. Really? Is the fact that some people would find you more attractive if you were two inches taller really that important? Am I missing something? Have my internal spiritual wanderings left me disconnected from some quirk of reality that says my personal joy lingers on the opinions of strangers? Am I caught in a technical malfunction of this "integrated virtual-perception system" that has blinded me to the (not so) simple truth that I am only as good as you think I am? Well, fuck you! "Operator, I need an exit!" I've got much bigger problems than the fact that "glasses make my face look crooked"! If my self-perception is subject to public consensus, then I'm screwed. Besides the fact that I'm a "faggot," a "nigger" (feel free to replace with negroid if that word makes you uncomfortable), and grew up a "welfare baby," I'm "dying of AIDS," for Pete's sake! Even my mother doesn't like black people, so imagine how hard it would be for me to convince a stranger that I am not "dying" of HIV? And more important, I couldn't give a shit! This is not The Matrix. As far as I know, my life is not bound by the programming of a machine, and we do not share control of my identity. Thank God! Common knowledge cannot be trusted, public opinion is dumb, and most people will never ever know who I am. I can barely grasp the complexity of my situation myself, and I know all the details. It's ridiculous to think that others could correctly appraise my value, even if given an in-depth list of my beliefs and talents, my friendships and loves, my tragedies and tears, and my times of beauty and joy -- let alone with superficial descriptions of my weight, hair fullness, and medical records. So although this moment of seeing myself through other people's eyes was fun, I think it's far more valuable for me to search my soul and find out what I think of myself. And I suggest you do the same. Saucier is a writer, blogger, and performance artist based in Los Angeles. Find more of his writing online via our website.