Scarcity is the foundation of desire. Similarly, the base of passion that fuels us, is the irreversible permanence – the inability to change.
We might approve of a flashy outfit, but we will instantly long for, fall for, the piercingly blue eyes (or brown, or coal black, for that matter) that came with it.
The fierceness of emotions about the permanent exhibit themselves best in popular -isms. The superficial attributes of our genetic code like race and gender, and the causal properties, like origin, are pet targets of racism, sexism, nationalism, and so many others, and because of what – because you can’t simply take your skin off, like you could a shirt, and put another one on?
But there are many other constants in our lives—apart from the extremes—that we deal with in a myriad of ways. People with frizzy hair will envy the ones with straight, and the latter will be getting perms; blondes will paint their manes dark, and dark ones will bleach theirs; the short will look up to tall and the tall will slouch to blend in. From attraction, to admiration, to jealousy, to fear, to hate, to misplaced pride, we form a relationship with those attributes both internal and external.
Something that should be a mild preference, a liking, becomes attitude, one we start to identify with, becomes something we long to establish as our own permanence towards others. Our identities should be a collection of fleeting emotions cycled in a feedback loop—never the same, always evolving. But more commonly they are a snapshot, taken a good while ago, that we hold close to our hearts so we would never forget what we supposedly really are: the result of a fulfilled demand of establishing ourselves during our teens. Look, this is me – I like playing tennis, and collecting pictures of hedgehogs.
When the change, unexpected or otherwise does happen, for the sake of continuity we can’t take it kindly. How to think about someone who has managed to change their opinion, their beliefs, or maybe their gender or even race. How to think about someone who is wearing a beard now, or has lost their beard. One, who has become hipster, or gone underground, or overground, or just died. Will they still like us? Will we still like them? Can we still hate them if we did so before? How do we frame this new person – how do we rediscover the way to think about them? “Deep down,” we assure ourselves, “you are still the same.”
The question should never be “who are you?” and only sometimes “who are you, today?” and, really, it doesn’t matter who you are – what matters is what you do, and not—following an equally drilled-to-death cliche—what you do with it – but what you do at all.
Having a seemingly fixed identity, however, can give us control. After shaping it, we try to sell ourselves and see, if anybody wants to buy this version of us. In the search of maximum appeal, we can adjust the image by pretending it to be constant. That’s what people talk about when they talk about becoming a better person. This pretense, still, introduces the duality of change and stagnation and, suddenly, it’s a dialogue between two parties, both of which argue for you, both of which do not know you. Kill that, and we maybe might get a bit closer to ourselves.
There is nothing more reinforcing and change-prohibiting than the people around you. Your friends and family who claims, or hopes, to know you. They will lovingly cast your image in stone and force you to stare at it clockwork-orange style 24/7. They will expect things, they will see things coming, they will tell you what’s you and what’s not you and, all in all, it will seem that they know more about you than you do. And, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, you will step on every single rake you are expected to step on, curse about the resulting cut on your forehead, just the way you were expected to, and at the end of the day, everyone will have been right about you.
So why not start there. Tell society (your friends, relatives, children, guinea pigs and pet lizards) to fuck off. Tell them to take 500 hundred steps back, then sit yourself down and promise to never, ever, ever change.