While coming back from Chicago the other night after viewing the latest in disappointing blockbuster movies, I was struck by the beauty of the skyline partially wrapped in a layer of foggy clouds. There was just something incredible about watching the Willis (though anyone from the area will and likely forever continue to refer to it as the Sears) Tower, reaching out to the heavens, unperturbed by the sounds and concerns of the city below. It occurred to me how much of a perfect metaphor it was to how we, as humans beings feel about ourselves. We are unique individuals, standing alone among everyone else. There’s just one problem though. It’s…well…a sky high fantasy.
Let me explain. When we are younger, i.e. teenagers, we do everything we can to independently establish an identity for ourselves. There’s just one problem with that. We really don’t. I mean sure, we form an identity that we likely carry with us for the rest of our lives and we think we are unique individuals. It’s just…we aren’t. Everything we do is based upon what we see around us. We determine what items we like and we buy them. Chances are though that they are ones that others we know have or because we’ve seen and liked them. We have our personality characteristics that we exhibit and develop. Except they are usually similar to the ones of the people we hang out with or observe on a daily basis. We think we choose individual careers for ourselves. Except what we really are doing is agreeing to participate in a form of communal identity categorization wherein we are also agreeing with the shared idea that monetary payment is necessary for survival. And it goes on and on.
Of course, there will be people that immediately say that they don’t belong to a particular group and are unique individuals. Well…I hate to break it to you but you’re not. Sure, you don’t buy “trendy” clothes or do the things that “popular” kids do. But I bet you do those “unpopular” or “unique” things with other people that think exactly like you. Oh, you are a loner type? Don’t hang out with people much? Well I bet you like to read books or play video or regular games, or listen or watch music and movies and TV, or heck eat things that other people have read or played or watched or listened to or eat. Why would I assume that? Because you wouldn’t be able to buy or view said material if someone thought it wouldn’t sell or no one would interact with it.
So then, what is this? A crack on commercialism? A lamentation on the death of individuality? A call to arms?
None of the above.
Let’s just not get hung up on the whole individuality and uniqueness ideas.
We are human beings. Animals. We eat. We sleep. We live. We die. We love. We hate. We laugh. We cry. We lose. We gain. The artifices are and have been erected by which we think we sway and stand tall above others. We really shouldn’t concern ourselves with our individuality more than finding our shared commonality with one another. That is far more important. We are not the tower that stands above others. We should more be perhaps like a mound of earth, continually watered so that life may continue to thrive and blossom upon it.