Many years ago, I saw a silly movie with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance called City Slickers. The film was about the ways that men’s lives can run astray and how to discover what is important. Curly, a rough and tumble cowboy played by Palance, has a philosophy of life. Life is about one thing… and you have to figure out what that one thing is. At the time that was a delightfully simple philosophy. Find a single thing to focus your life on and the rest works itself out. Now I can simply devote my life to finding the one thing that defines me… just one thing…
I suppose there is a reason why movies are served with popcorn.
There is a lot of value in letting things go, but it is a great disservice to deny our human capacity to be many things at once. Think about that single-mindedness. Think of animals who seem to have a high degree of specialization, who can only eat very specific things and spend their entire life in pursuit of that one thing. I love animals, but I wouldn’t want to trade my life of variety for that level of simplicity.
Right now, there is a desire to label and categorize people. You have to pick the one thing that you are. Are you Liberal or Conservative? Are you a Minority or Majority? What is your Title? What is your Belief? When one dares to say “I’m not really any of those; I’m independent,” you might be called indecisive or weak. “Make up your mind!” “Pick a side!”
One of my favorite things on the Internet is tagging. Why? Because it’s chaotic and organic and makes no sense… but yet seems to give you the right answers. Movies, music and more are tagged by everyone in the ways that make sense to each individual. There is usually very little control over the tags or how they are handled… which is the chaos. But then you find that people who think about things the same way that you do tend to label things in the same way that you would. Labels which might seem contradictory if you were picking a section in a store blend together beautifully and show off the uniqueness in ways that could never achieve if you had to pick just one thing.
So, I proudly proclaim that I choose everything. I want to be a Renaissance Man, squeezing every drop of experience out of this existence that I possibly can, not because I think that death is the end, but because I believe that life is wasted if it is lived solely in anticipation of death. So, here are a few tags I place upon myself:
actor, adventuresome, artistic, believer, bully, child, Christian, citizen, comedian, communicator, confessor, cook, conservative, consumer, crazy, creator, curious, destroyer, detail-oriented, disorganized, dreamer, editor, enemy, escapist, explorer, fanatic, fantasy, father, fighter, follower, friend, frightened, geek, gourmand, happy, healer, heterosexual, hopeful, horror, human, hungry, husband, ignorant, intellectual, lazy, leader, lost, lover, magickal, malcontent, man, messy, misunderstood, observer, open, optimistic, pagan, penitent, pessimistic, philosopher, physical, precise, protector, psychic, publisher, quiet, reader, relaxed, relentless, risk-averse, scary, sci-fi, secret, seeker, sensitive, sensual, sexual, silly, sinner, skeptic, spiritual, stressed, student, swashbuckler, talkative, teacher, technical, Texan, thief, traveler, trivial, troublemaker, unpredictable, victim, weirdo, writer, well-read, whimsical, wizard
With all that is given to us, how can we possible be just one thing?