I am a man riddled with anxieties, hangups, doubts, and regrets, but I aspire to a greater sense of self-worth (or any sense of self-worth, frankly). And this is why I have discovered a new hero in Kirk Gleason.
Kirk is a character from the show Gilmore Girls, which my wife started watching on Netflix, and that I have taken a liking to as well (with one enormous caveat*). He is at best a tertiary townsperson, and at least from the episodes I’ve seen he has no pivotal role to play other than to lend additional quirky color to Stars Hollow.
But for me, he is a role model.
Kirk is deeply odd. He pursues innumerable passions, hobbies, and career paths, and does so with gravity and determination. He has myriad peccadillos and peeves, and makes no bones about them. He faces personal crisis after personal crisis, never with panic, but always with a very public kind of grit, fighting his internal battles in the public square.
He is congenitally weird, and he is resolutely fussy. But no matter how out of the mainstream or awkward or bizarre anything he might say, think, or do might be, he could not care less what anyone else thinks of him. Unlike me, he is either oblivious or utterly disinterested in the opinions of others. He is, instead, unflappable in his quest for self-actualization, a quest that no setback, no stumble, no public rejection ever seems to dampen. He seems only bemused that others can’t see what he sees.
And while we are of course talking about a fictional character in a fictional town, I can’t help but think it is because Kirk is so self-assured and indifferent to popular opinion that he is accepted. This isn’t to say that people don’t find him exasperating or rude sometimes, but it is understood that it is his very oddness that adds value to the community. Sometimes he is merely humored, sometimes he is asked to take his quest elsewhere, but he is never cast out. Is he loved? I’d like to think so.
But mostly, I’d like to think that I could have Kirk’s psychological fortitude. I wish I could have the strength to be as deeply weird and damaged and different as I am, and not feel the need to apologize for it, to dance around it, to make it a joke within a joke in order to make the people around me more comfortable. I wish I could pursue my quest for self-actualization, unperturbed by the opinions of others, unburdened by my own self-loathing.
When I grow up, I want to be like Kirk.
* Okay, what the fuck is up with the music on that show? The theme song is unbearable enough, a vapid, insipid, overproduced, underconsidered piece that sounds like Carol King wrote it by accident, while very sick with a stomach virus, in between heaves. Worse still is that the song is like a brain parasite, sticking itself to one’s gray matter, burrowing in deeply, and sucking our precious nutrients, all the while driving the host mad.
And then there’s the interstitial music, the acoustic guitar, “la la la” bits in between scenes. Dreadful. They’re like a parody of the music for a parody show on a parody of a Lifetime show. Someone needs to be held responsible for this.