Wednesday, August 1, 2012


We've all spent a great deal of time thinking about what we want to be. That's harmless enough. I'm curious to know when we got the impression that we could (and should) actually decide who to be. It seems we're all shopping for new personas almost daily, testing out what will make us feel complete, or sometimes less wisely, what we know others will admire. Right down to the color of our hair, our taste in music, or the books we read, we can control our image, run our own PR. But, like Cinderella's maligned step-sisters, it may feel that we're trying to squeeze into something that just doesn't fit. (By the way, it's not nice to make fun of people with big feet! Maybe that's why they were so mean...?)

It would be inaccurate to say that this pursuit is derived solely from an inherent need to impress others. There's something about control that intrigues us. They say it's what separates us from the animals. Imagine if we told people that who they are is exactly who they should be, idiosyncrasies, tragic flaws and all, and that they should just sit back and enjoy life instead of constantly pursuing the ever-changing definition of perfection. Sounds somewhat defeatist, doesn't it? In the name of self-improvement, why settle for "less"?

Each of us is raised to believe that his identity and, ultimately, his destiny is in his own hands, and that may very well be the problem. We like control. On a whim, we can decide to be stylish, be a health nut, be funny, be driven, be emo (that could be another post altogether!) or whatever the passing trend may be. How lucky we must be to get to choose what we want to be at any given moment. But what happens when this supposed freedom becomes more like a ball and chain?

Control is a tricky thing. It's a paradox in and of itself. It can be addictive for many people and, therefore, turn on them. What we think we control often ends up controlling us. The strangest part of all of this is that we're generally unaware of, unfazed, and unconcerned by this transfer of power. We seem perfectly content to be run by our current compulsion to be something or someone.

So what's the point of all this? The point is that I'm afraid we might be missing out on life. Constantly seeking self-improvement makes us feel powerful; but is this pursuit of power really just a life-long wild goose chase? What are we chasing? Death? I believe that nature adjusts for us. We can actually accomplish more by living more naturally and letting things take their own course, including our flaws. It's not a crime to accept life for what it is. In truth, it takes strength to know when to let go of control.

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