About image, obsession and mid-life crisis
The human brain is a fascinating thing. How it interprets what it sees and hears, the people, the events and the feelings they stir. It has a vivid imagination, sometimes it can create art, music, stories and feelings. It doesn’t matter who you are, and you may not think you have an artistic bone in your body, it still creates.
It can be a beautiful thing, this imagination, but it can also be dangerous. Who has not blown something completely out of proportion in their life? I know I have. I find it particularly perilous when it plays with emotions. Because then, it will do anything to preserve it, becoming blind to reality, generating false narratives to protect the image it created, distorting facts, refusing to see what is in plain sight.
When my brain saw Jamie Fraser for the first time, it immediately became fascinated. It was the perfect mixture of intelligence and simplicity, beauty and ruggedness, strength and vulnerability. I was hooked. And I transposed all that was stirred in me on the person who portrays him, Sam Heughan. My brain did not care if the real human fitted the image in my head or not, it made it fit. It was blind. It’s not blind anymore.
In my newly found sight, I see the totally imperfect person that he is, which is not a bad thing, we are all imperfect after all. I also see why I was so blind, and it’s disturbing to me. Because the confusion was not only of my brain’s doing. He played the part, held the rhetoric and appropriated the attributes of his fictional persona in so many ways: the healthy lifestyle, his love of Scotland and the environment, his bond with Claire (oops, Cat), his caring personality.
What his covidiocy has revealed to me though is something, or someone, very different. Yes, he keeps his body fit, but he seems to drink like a fish and just revealed he smokes cigars. Again, by his own admissions, he also tends to work crazy hours on many projects at a time, spends an enormous amount of time on social media or watching television, and he doesn’t seem to have had a lasting emotional relationship with a significant other ever. Healthy lifestyle? We’ll pass.
I believe he does love Scotland, but he doesn’t consider it home, other than perhaps in his fond childhood memories. Home is where you want to go when the going gets tough, where you can reflect and be with the people who matter most to you. Amid a pandemic, when governments from around the world were calling their people home, he chose to go to Hawaii, with someone who showed the world that she could not care less about social distancing while there.
There’s no way he didn’t know it was the wrong thing to do. The timing of his posts while in California and that of the plane post from the women he went with mocking quarantine, as well as his lashing out when confronted by fans, are all testimony to that. The whole incident, including the people he chose to spend time with while there, go a long way in me questioning his true character.
I could write about his relationship with Cat, but I won’t, because I never truly believed in it, even though I saw it in numerous interviews and could understand why people were so adamant it was real. In hindsight, that should have been a sign of the house of cards, but, you know, the brain only sees what it wants to see. Which brings me to the question: Who is Sam Heughan? I honestly have no idea and won’t pretend that I do.
But what if he was asking himself the same question? It was quite obvious that turning 40 was an important and somewhat disturbing milestone for him, as it is for almost everyone. It’s not called the mid-life crisis for nothing. It’s a time to reflect on your life, the relationships that you have built and what you have accomplished. Your legacy, if you will.
Now imagine being Sam. Yes, his career is doing well, he has a gigantic fan base who adore him, a charity that is helping people feel better about themselves and live a better lifestyle, his own brand of whisky. But the entire thing is built on the image of Jamie Fraser, who some of us now know he is not. The image so carefully built and nourished is warped and cracked. And, make no mistake, he knows it. Not only because of recent events, but because he’s always known it deep inside. After all, he built the house of cards as much as anyone, played the game. If you think about it, it must not always have been easy knowing that people love you for the image you portray, and not who you really are.
Even now, people’s brains refuse to see the cracks. They make up stories to explain his behaviour; they follow a former playboy bunny on Instagram because of her association with him, watch her as she films herself half naked with her friends, and justify that as well. Try to explain that to your children and grand-children in a few years. Yes, the human brain is fascinating in its imagination, but sometimes it needs to wake up.
As for Sam, all I wish for him is that he finds the courage to face up to his mistake about Hawaii, and just be himself, whoever that is.