Tami and I recently found the movie Breakin' on cable and watched it for nostalgic reasons. The first time I watched that movie it was an early pre-middle-school peek for me at testing identities. I didn't really try to be a break dancer but I recognized that I wanted to know how to break dance because that was cool and I paid attention to the style associated with break dancers as they were portrayed to me. Watching the movie two days ago was just funny. Movies like it are still being made for new generations with similar story lines and acting. In middle school I actually thought that somewhere in our world people would converge around a random dancer in the street and wriggle and clap to the beat in awe of the dancer. I'm still waiting to see this happen kind of like I'm waiting for all the students at my work to spontaneously break into choreographed dance and song.
After that time period came the middle school years of my life and the trial of various identities began. It was that strange time in my development where I, as most of us did, would try on different personas to see what fit. For me that translated into skateboarder, surfer, all black clothes mysterious dude, sunglasses, loafers, shoes without socks, flannel, attachés, slacks, and.. well, I think those are most of the styles and accompanying personalities I tried on at the time. Note, I tried on the styles and personalities, not the skills. I could barely stay on a skateboard and the only surfing in my life were the pictures on my surfer t-shirts. It was a valuable time for me. It was also just the beginning. Next came the trying on of different philosophies, opinions, and world views beginning in high school and peaking in college. That was when I began the quest to learn from as many interesting people as I could talk to at coffee shops, as many interesting song lyrics as I could decipher, and as many books as I could consume. By that point, I was not only trying on but taking off some of the views I had inherited from my upbringing to see what life was like without them.
There were three misconceptions that I had about the identity search process I was going through when I was young. It's okay, it was part of my experience, but they were misconceptions according to my current perspective.
1) I was in a crisis situation; I needed to find an identity as I was lacking one.
- I wasn't in a crisis without an identity. I was in a normal process of developing my identity.
2) I was searching for an identity to suit me for life.
- I was testing identities to suit me for the time of my life that I was in and those facets of identity would not necessarily serve me for ever; I could evolve.
3) I was looking for the real truth.
- It's possible to find something is incorrect, but different perspectives make sense for different people in different situations and that includes family, friends, strangers, and my self. I was really just searching for perspectives to make up a malleable world view that worked.
Now in my 30's, it would seem that the majority of the trying on, taking off, adjusting and trying on again is in the past. I find myself more often satisfied to fine tune that which I have already found to fit me well. That's why it's so fun to have the opportunity, at my age, to try on different styles, personas, and perspectives. At this point in my life it's not as simple as buying a pair of Vans shoes and walking around for a while. That's where Matt has provided me with a golden opportunity. What's it like to be one of those guys driving a cool old VW Bus? Now I know. What about a slammed Bug? Got it. And now, how about a muscle car? Maybe a '68 Plymouth GTX? Excellent. In middle school I just couldn't borrow a buddy's Airwalks, GT bike, and talent. But if you are ridiculously fortunate as an adult in the opportunities presented to you as I have been, your friend just might offer you to take care of his GTX while he is in Mexico for a week. What a difference in driver experience and conversations with strangers that GTX made in my days. These are not just superficial experiences to me. I believe that I better understand others who make different choices for their every day lives and don't just borrow the style for a week. I've been thinking a lot about those decisions we make out of habit as with vehicles, homes, clothing, opinions, politics, etc. If, for example, I were to go buy a car two years ago I would have bought the nicest car I could afford that was practical at the dealership. Now I'm thinking: What is interesting out there, what could I lower, what would look good with Mexican blankets as seat covers, what would be entertaining to drive The Kid around in, what would make the commute to work into a cruise to work? And from that I go on to questions such as: Why live close to work when there are so many interesting places to live that are close enough? Why wear the same type of clothes when not working? Why not question the simple and obvious decisions I make to see where there is room to add some color and adventure to the mundane?. Good questions. Thanks Matt, for another adventure in self discovery and a week of driving the coolest car everywhere I went.