It is in our nature to try to summarize our Selves into a syntax that will introduce us to each other. Perhaps it is an adaptation to losing the ability to recognize these things by scent or sound. So, when you introduce yourself you tend to list some words that in your culture at that time pertain to aspects of you that the other person should know at that moment. We give ourselves and each other labels as a means of quick and easy communication.
I find, however, that labelling people as things, or naming behaviours at all, is a fleeting attempt at making order where there cannot be order. So, if I tell you that I am something, there are a number of things to I ask you to think about.
(For the sake of this point, I will tell you that I am blue.)
Now, what is blue to you is going to be an amalgamation of whatever blue means to you, your history with blue, your experiences with blue, what you have been taught about blue, etc. And, on top of that, which of these memories and experiences and lessons surface will be related to what is going on in the instant that it is said and the environment that we are both in. So, what you will be thinking when I say I am blue and what I am thinking when I say I am blue will be result in completely different ideas.
A label strives to make this idea constant, unchanging, and solid. This is an impossible act in a world that is forever changing and evolving and deteriorating, yes? Of course, but we are trained to do this anyway. Over a period of time any name for any thing becomes useless or “wrong”; a bunch of broccoli in a container marked broccoli that is left long enough to become earth again is a “mislabelled” container. So we add exceptions and footnotes and “but’s” to all of our definitions, which makes the entire process moot.
What this comes down to is that when I say that I am blue, neither of us can be truly sure of what I’m trying to say.
And, eventually, in one way or another, this will become apparent. It may result in anger, or confusion, or just a laugh, but it will cause a disruption in how we understand each other. I may decide one day that I was never blue or don’t want to be called blue anymore, and you will feel less close to me for this. Or, you may decide that because of an unfortunate event or word of mouth you no longer like anything listed under “blue” and stop speaking to me. I may decide that I am so used to being blue that I should only bother with things directed towards what I consider “blue” and exclude everything else. You may decide to be friends with only the part of me that you have defined as blue and never want to hear about the parts that I may see as red.
It is easy to end a relationship or lose opportunities over such nonsense as this.
This said, I will still struggle with syntax, and will often simply state that “I am __”. And for the time that it took me to say or type that, it was probably true. In fact, some of these words may span my entire lifetime, but others will not. But the meaning will still always be a little different to you than it is to me.
So, if we are to know each other longer than an instant, instead of only focusing on these words we have for each other, let’s focus on sharing the whole of us, over time, and understand that any fleeting introduction full of labels is just that. But let us promise to allow each other, and our “definitions”, to change and be ever-changing. Maybe we could not cling to them, but instead use labels, if we have to, as the footnote to the whole, not the whole itself. And let them be free to evolve and disappear at will and to accept this as it happens.
Maybe we will “mesh”, maybe we are going in the same direction for a little while and can share an experience or two. Maybe we’ll never learn to like each other and are on two completely different paths. Maybe we will influence each others lives forever.
It is nice to meet you.