Thursday, June 19, 2008

Little boxes, Little boxes

I was listening to NPR the other day and there was a small tidbit about the recent Tony Awards and Mark Rylance's acceptance speech in which he essentially recited the below prose poem called The Back Country:

When you are in town, wearing some kind of uniform is helpful,
policeman, priest, etc. Driving a tank is very impressive, or a car with
official lettering on the side. If that isn’t to your taste you could join the
revolution, wear an armband, carry a homemade flag tied to a broom handle, or a
placard bearing an incendiary slogan. At the very least you should wear a suit
and carry a briefcase and a cell phone, or wear a team jacket and a baseball cap
and carry a cell phone.
If you go into the woods, the backcountry, someplace
past all human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange and carry a gun, or,
depending on the season, carry a fishing pole, or a camera with a big lens.
Otherwise it might appear that you have no idea what you are doing, that you are
merely wandering the earth, no particular reason for being here, no particular
place to go. — Louis Jenkins

Coming from a generation that demands to be taken (very seriously) as individuals and living in a society where words like "unique" or "one-of-a-kind" persons, places or things, demand attention and have mostly positively connotations, I found the poem extremely interesting. In essence, by trying our hardest to "be" individuals whether it is via the way we dress, express ourselves, our interests...aren't we really putting ourselves into little boxes of our own making? And without these labels, as the poem suggests, do we have no reason? No particular place to go?

I can't help but think of that commercial where it's a young guy and lists the prices of his jeans, his t-shirt, the cost of his 'hip' haircut adding up to hundreds up dollars and the tag was something like, 'to get that just rolled out of bed look...priceless.' Whether we know it or not, I believe we all carry around this image of ourselves and what we want to project to the people around us to essentially let them know something about us. Because what this all comes down to really is the desperate human desire to be understood completely and fully by someone else and I believe this is where we’ve all gone a little screwy!

We are too busy projecting images and pinning labels of our own making on our shirts to send a message to the world, this is who I am! This is what I’m about! It boils down to one of those hackneyed life lessons, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” because to truly know someone, to truly understand your reason and your place to go has nothing to do with what you look like, it’s about actions and what you do as a person that truly defines you. And that my friends is what unique is all about…

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