Much vaunted, rarely attained.
I am not, as you may know, particularly consistent. I do my best to present a fairly consistent self, to not fall to pieces or shape shift entirely, but over time it just isn't possible to be the same person all the damn time. Mercurial, chameleonic. Never thought of myself that way, but it becomes more and more apparent that that's how I am. And I think it's how we all are.
Obviously all people change, but some people are reliable and consistent and real. They are roughly, the same person from day to day. I used to think I was the same person all the time, but I shimmer and shake inside. I feel like a radio dial caught between two stations. I fade in and out of reception. No one likes to listen to that station.
All small business owners will tell you: Consistency is key. We worry so over branding and messaging and making sure that all possible customers know exactly who you are. There is much messaging to do (retch) but little time--it all needs to point in the same direction. I don't have time for a business strategy that writhes and howls like 15 cats on leashes.
But let us be clear: Inside my skull, it's 15 cats on leashes.
Most of us want a solidity in our friends and business partners and colleagues. We want dependable and reliable. The world is a chaotic and unreliable place; it only seems fair that our friends, the little scrap of intelligence and free will in an otherwise mindless universe, should be solid and reliable.
But we can't be solid and reliable, because we aren't. We can pretend and we can focus on one thing so that we appear to be Joe in Accounting who really likes bowling, but Joe in accounting contains multitudes.
Our bodies are solid, continuous, reliable. We move through time like pearls on a string--smooth, beautiful, and connected. We don't change shape in the middle of a breath. It takes time for age to soften or harden our jaws. Even a dramatic hair cut is a continuous, witnessable, reliable experience. Britney Spears walked into a hair salon, had her head shaved, and walked out. The material world is straightforward.
Our minds are a different story altogether. I don't know exactly how our minds work and I'm sure there's some materiality to the how and why of shifting thoughts, but from experience I can say: The thoughts we think are not bound by time and space. They hop from one thing to something else. From oranges to empty tea cups to dead cats to economic theory and beyond.
I always thought my experiences were the ghosts, flickering in and out of my life. I was always me, walking solidly through the world, and sometimes I'm dancing. Sometimes I'm writing. But now I also see that I am the ghost. That my shifting and changing render me a flickering image, a perfectly frictionless surface, a shadow, a glass sphere.
I feel such pressure to conform to a stronger identity so that I will just belong somewhere, but this is the wrong tactic to take. In the past I spent a lot of time keeping my life separated into its component parts, which works some of the time, but there always comes a time when I'm not actually interested in dance, or board games, or whatever, because I'm just not. I'm trying hard to reframe that question into something positive instead of feeling sad that I don't have a Thing I'm About. And to believe that most other people don't have A Thing They Are About either, even if they seem to be focused, driven, one-note. We don't make one note. We make a lot of notes. They don't necessarily make a lot of sense or fit an archetype. Sometimes they drop out and sometimes it's all pretty much one thing. Sometimes we change based on where we are and who we are with.
How do we ever get to know each other? How do we hold the space open for our friends to change? How do we hold the space open for ourselves to change? How do we form community with inconsistent people?