I was flying from Seattle into Virginia yesterday and while two babies behind me were competing to see who could scream louder and kick the seat in front of them harder, and I was trying to make sense of the on-flight movie, 500 Days of Summer, I came upon an interesting thought. It might sound completely unrelated but they link together somewhat.
The parents of each child were giving the kids milk to quiet the kids down and telling them how good they were every chance possible between the screaming if any pause lasted for longer than 5 seconds and their methods for positive feedback to the kids seemed to me to only encourage further screaming to receive what they want. From the vibe of all passengers in the seats in front of them in row 32, I felt I was definitely not the only one.
And then this movie that talked about “love” and tried to accomplish some sort of artistic feel with a couple of interesting scenes and barely subtle, trying-to-be-clever messages had also included various shots of architectural “masterpieces” where the main character “could be a great architect if he tried”. All of which brought me to this thought on Individualism: “The key to invidualism isn’t how you’re different from everyone else, but how everyone is uniquely different from you.”
You see, the babies were so focused around themselves and what they wanted that they were completely unaware of their surroundings. Same case with some of these architecture pieces which looked great by themselves in one angle but in a city filled with “great architecture”, they all tried so hard individually to stand out that none stood out at all. As an individual, trying to differentiate yourself from everyone else places “everyone else” into a homogenous group in which you compare yourself to an imaginary being that represents the total of what is “them” vs. “you”. However, if you decide to take on the other point of view, you allow the work to happen through everyone else. All that you need to be is yourself and that is enough to distinguish all others from yourself. You might wonder, “well don’t we learn from each other and are trying to imitate what others have done with a twist to make it our own?” But that’s the beauty of it.
The environment and all others that you’ve interacted with will affect you in some way but are all in their own way, individually different from you. It’s a strange thought I had, but I realized that we don’t need to try so hard to be unique and to stand out. In fact, we become more similar the harder we try to be different from everyone else. I’ll end this post with a visual of what I mean to say. Imagine if each pixel had tried to be different from all other pixels:
Merry Christmas, everyone!