Fear. Envy. Jealousy. Doubt. Uncertainty. Low self esteem.
These are things that keep us from what we love, what we want, what we need. And what we NEED is to be human beings, interacting and challenging each other every day.
Working in Residential Life, I have rules to follow, policies to enforce, and need to eat with residents so many times a week. I need to know who is who and if they’re “student leader” quality. They gave a fancy name to “small talk”; something about BASICS (and yes, it did stand for something). I go to class, to the cafeteria, I make door decs, I tell the floor to quiet down, I do rounds to make sure the hall is safe and behaving certain nights. It’s so routine. I am doing it with some of the most fun people I’ve ever met, and sometimes we laugh so hard we’re in tears, or we discuss silly situations we deal with, but it’s not enough.
This quote from Waking Life becomes more and more fitting each day…
Soap Opera Woman: Excuse me.
Wiley: Excuse me.
Soap Opera Woman: Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven’t met, but I don’t want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it’s like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. “Here’s your change.” “Paper or plastic?’ “Credit or debit?” “You want ketchup with that?” I don’t want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want to be ant, you know
I’m tired of being that ant. As a college student, I see new people every day. And for all I know, that tall guy rocking the beard at Caribou Coffee now and then could be my next relationship. The girl in my Philosophy class with who ran up the stairs with me could become my best friend. As a human being, I want to know why we have stopped forming these relationships.
Why have we stopped questioning the possibilities and effects people have on and in our lives? Sure, this could be caused by watching Something Borrowed or taking a philosophy course this semester and you can think I’m crazy. Fine. But reread the question again. Why have we stopped questioning the possibilities and effects people have on and in our lives?
Is it because new people are dangerous? The uncertainty of them is unnerving? Could they hurt us? Could they love us? Could we hate them? Could they hate us? Are they too far out of our comfort zone? Is there just something about them that doesn’t suit our criteria for a friend or mate? Why do we have those criteria and why are they so strict? Were you even aware you had such criteria until I said this?
Think of every relationship you didn’t pursue. Was it the longing-from-afar, where you were too afraid to say anything because there was no chance they knew who you were? Was it your best friend? Was it because it would be social unacceptable? Was it because you were afraid of being hurt?
I asked an acquaintance what kind of person he was the other day. “How would you answer that question if I asked it?” he replied. “I don’t know. That’s why I asked it. I’m a curious individual who is taking a new approach to life and the people in mine, no matter how minuscule a part they seem to play.” And I told him the quote from Waking Life. He took my challenge, and said he respected my need for reform. When I told him I was trying to redefine myself because there are aspects I don’t like about myself, he took it as negative. Instead, I corrected him. “Don’t you have things about yourself you don’t like? It’s not that bad. I just don’t like slipping into the same habits so I said redefine.” His response was “I think that’s really cool. You seem like a real person.” A real person. That implies that most people are not real. And that leads us back to the ant quote.
When someone sees you on the street, do you think they see you as a real person, or are you just another ant buzzing around the colony? And what can you do to change this? WOULD you change this?