Here’s a secret: I want to be limitless. I am, however, bound by the physical laws on this planet, the limits of my own physiology and certainly and often foremostly (yes, I’m doing something to this word that it wasn’t intended for, get over it) by other people.
There’s little I can do about the first two, the latter, though, is something that only exits in people’s heads, so I should be able to work around/ignore it entirely.
Alas, if life was that easy, we’d all be living it.
Let me tell you what I am talking about: Imagination.
Mine is limitless, unlimited, without bounds, eternal and everlasting, you get my meaning. I can’t say this for the imagination of most of my fellow humans, though.
Consider this: in my CV it says somewhere that I have worked in a call centre. Among all the jobs I have done, I’ve never abhorred anything as much as working in a call centre. I’ve only ever done three call centre jobs, altogether for about a year in the span of seven years. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Now, when I returned to Germany, the Job Center there decided I should continue to work in a call centre and sent me about 40 job sheets for call centre jobs. I was so appalled that I literally fled the country.
I will never ever work in a call centre again. It didn’t matter that I had worked other jobs, some of which entailed a great deal of being on the phone, but the main purpose was not for me to be on the phone and answer questions.
You can’t really find a job these days that would keep you away from the phones for good, but that’s beside the point.
I was categorized as a call centre agent and filed away accordingly without further consideration. Needless to say I will never again have any dealings with Job Centers in Germany.
This is just one way in which I have been, could be or am categorized. Give me a label maker and start typing out all the categories that fit. Then attach them to me and see if you run out of room.
You’re allowed to ask anybody to help you to label me and chances are that everyone has something else to add to that. Sometimes it’s just a different choice of words, but mostly you’ll find there’s no end to the categories that will be applicable.
Here are a few: human being (start with the obvious one and the only one I consider valid), female, Caucasian, tall, white, brunette (or dark blonde according to some), daughter, sister, cousin, niece, team captain, writer, traveller, student, philosopher, intellectual, reader, listener, lesbian, friend, employee, housemate, student, teacher, customer, client, dreamer, liberal, agnostic.
You get it, I’m sure. All of these things are true to someone; all of these things apply to me. But none of them define me. They only limit me. They’re there to try and compartmentalize the complexity that is me to make it easier for you to deal with me, or not.
If you don’t like one of those labels, you may dismiss everything else as well and choose not to know me.
Yes, we humans like to label, we name things, and forgot that all those names are completely arbitrary. A tree is only a tree in English, in German it a “Baum”. They mean the same thing, but only because it was agreed that they do once upon a time. For all intents and purposes the tree might have ended up a “bird”.
Sure, this is our way of organizing the world around us. Obviously the human kind has an inherent need for that sort of thing. I can’t say that I am exempt. But we forget that the name of a thing is not the thing and that knowing the name of it doesn’t mean that you know it.
You know my name, you don’t know me. Well, if you read this regularly, you’ll know me better than a lot of others do, but there’s a limit. I’ll allow you to know all these things, because I don’t mind sharing them. But I won’t ever share everything. I’ll do that elsewhere.
Let’s all acknowledge the need for labels (at least at this point in our evolution), but maybe we should start to give them less meaning and not have them obstruct our vision too much.
You can try and limit me with the labels you want to apply to me, but you won’t succeed. You’re actually only limiting yourself.
I may be many things and I have no problem acknowledging any of them, but none of them limit me, none of them define me.
I choose to be limitless.