I was captured by the colors of the leaves on a tree and lead to think of a thousand other things.
photo by sugarmonk
Identity is a funny thing. Every once in a while I try to define myself--who I am, what I believe, and the way I live my life. I'll feel like I've figured it all out and that mindset seems to fit me for a while, till I hit another road block where the logic no longer works. I'll revisit all my old documentation to see where I went wrong.
The last philosophy that seemed to work was what I could now call "the pursuit of newness." Once upon a time in Jersey, of all places, I found myself admiring leaves on a tree. It was a spark. It was the image that symbolized a whole era of thinking in my world. I was pondering ignorance and how that leads to all kinds of bad things. At the time I decided that if we all focused on things like "newness" things wouldn't suck.
It's the lack of a desire to know, learn, explore, or understand newness.
It's newness. Like the crisp untainted empty first page of a journal full of opportunities to be filled with an infinite amount amazing possibilities. It's in taking the familiar (and making it foreign), or the foreign (and looking at it differently to make it understandably familiar), and finding the beauty which exists within it all. It's in the exploration of the same block you've always lived on (discovering that the leaves outside your window since childhood are purple on one side, green on the other, but through the light are a deep and magnificent red), or listening for unique compositions of words in conversations you've had with your best friend a million times.
When I read old stuff I cringe at some parts and adore myself at others. I'm an outsider here, more so than I ever was at home, and I've found great freedom in that as well as isolation.
Back in the world of pursing newness...
"where or how does one go about intentionally discovering newness? is it a matter of blatant denial of familiar impulses, or instant pursuit of unfamiliar ones, or gradual absorbance/analyzation of daily sights, or...what?"
And I replied:
I would have to say that personally I am constantly looking for different ways to find newness, but somehow never intentionally. The process of discovery for me comes in so many different flavors and with different toppings. It's been in really having a sincere desire to look around, and look again. It has been in holding myself to trying to go to at least one new place, preferably a foreign country, every year, despite how much money I don't have. It has been in going to museums, in writing, in reading, in discussing everything and anything, in meeting people, in going on walks to the same places, in dreaming, in observing, in watching people, in asking questions, in watching tv, even just in thinking. It's been in trying things I haven't done before, or watching a movie I've seen a million times before to try and find the tiny details to answer the why did he do this or that questions. My attitude towards newness reflects more of the last options "gradual absorption and analyzation," as well as "or... what?" I think it's in being a true observer, taking notice, and paying attention. Looking, and looking again.
For me I constantly need to document, to hold on to what I have seen, what I have known, what I have realized. I look back sometimes and I almost want to throw away some of the things I once said, for they seem so foreign to who I am now. I don't though. I know that it is a sign of a metamorphosis I seem to believe in, that I will always be growing, changing, and always hoping to be or find someone new (notice the word choice here wasn't better, but new- meaning different) within myself.
If there is one thing I've learned, it's that I know nothing. I don't want to act like I know the answers, because now I know that there are so many different answers to the same questions we all seem to hold. So then I'm left with nothing to say.
Then I found myself looking up at a tree in Korea, reminded of New Jersey, and thinking... that I'd like to fit in. Wouldn't it be nice, when you wanted to, just to be like everyone else? Or, when you wanted to be, completely different? Like changing into a different outfit, putting on a wig for fun, dying your hair a new color, or changing the wallpaper on your desktop. Just as common as anything else, as simple as putting on a new pair of underwear, but being able to switch up your gender or sexuality, or your race, or whatever.
The experiences and identities I've gained through my pursuit of newness now conflict with each other. I've collected all these selves and now I can pull out different cards to make connections with people and camoflauge potentially undesirable parts of myself with obscure fabulousness. I want to live more honestly, freely, openly, and unafraid about the ways that I'm conflicted. I want to tell the whole story, even the parts that were embarresing or sucked. I don't want to pretend to be only one piece of me, just so I don't offend someone else, or because I'm too afraid that they won't adore me anymore.
So yeah, it's hard to balance my love for being feminine, divalicious, and sexy with my feminist rage against objectification of women. It's hard to accept everyone as they are, when that means I have to accept people who are bigots, xenophobic, or just plain rude. And yeah, I'll say that it's not easy to talk about racism, to defend black culture or black people, to speak of an African-American experience, when I've never genuinely felt accepted or part of the black community, because I'm not just black (or not black enough). Simultaneous guilt and appreciation of my priviledge is in constant battle with my desire for so much more. I'm an academic who hates to study and I'm not as well read as I should be. I'm an artist who can't draw. I'm a lesbian who dates guys. I'm a straight girl that isn't. Sometimes I'm really Jewish but by no means am I religious nor do I really beleive in god. I'm an adventurer who loves to lay in bed. I'm defining myself and I hate categories because I never seem to fit into them properly. It's messy, but I'm not as messed up as I could be. My life is a bit crazy and complicated at times, but it's a lot of fun. I'm fed up with playing all the games and I don't want to care about fronting for other people's benefit.
I want to be accepted, loved, and adored, like everyone else, and be surrounded by people who are somehow just as unique, fabulous, faulty, and conflicted for like-minded fun and conversation.