“It would be very hard to think “I am over there” and “Can I go meet me?” and “Is that me better than this me?” “Can I learn from the other me?” “Has the other me made the same mistakes I’ve made?” Or, “Can I sit down and have a conversation with me?” Wouldn’t that be an interesting thing? The truth is, we do that all day long every day. People don’t admit it and they don’t think about it too much, but they do. Every day, they’re talking in their own head. “What’s he doing?” “Why’d he do that?” “What did she think?” “Did I say the right thing?” In this case, there’s another you out there.” – Richard Berendzen from Another Earth (2011)
The other night I watched a very thought-provoking film – Another Earth (2011) – which was subtly brilliant in its understanding of human nature, being human and all that entails.
There were many moments in this film which touched those parts of us that entertainment vessels usually don’t reach…
Rhoda Williams: If you met yourself, what would you say?
John Burroughs: Hey, you up for a video game? Probably beat me. What would you say?
Rhoda Williams: Better luck next time.
– quote from Another Earth (2011)
…partly because most of us have grown up watching TV and film and we’re so used to the manipulations of their creators that we are inoculated. We know the formula as well as they do, we can see, hear, feel and predict what’s coming next, where the story is going, what the characters are going to say and do. We wait, watch and sigh… our sighs often signalling that yet again what we expected happened, and although we’re not necessarily disappointed, we just hoped that something different would occur and surprise us.
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Perhaps that quote is true for real life, mostly but not always, however in fiction the same rules do not apply. That’s one of the reasons why we love fiction. It’s also one of the reason why we love the power of positive thinking.
“’Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try, try again.”
One of the areas where we tend to try, try, try again is in relationships. We repeat patterns of relating, some of which are deeply ingrained in our psyche. We fall in love or like with someone as they are, as we perceive them to be, as they present themselves, their best version of themselves according to popular opinion and polls taken of people they’ve met and known… and then we try to change them and they try to change us.
We see this dynamic all the time in films and TV. Sometimes it leads to a happily ever after, and sometimes to something else… like realising that trying to live up to someone else’s version of us is a road to hell on earth for us… and them but they don’t know it because they’re so convinced they’re right and we’re wrong… unless you improve yourself and become who they want you to be.
It can be very subtle. Those who try to change us tell themselves that it is for our benefit, they see our potential and are going to help us to be a better version of ourselves. Why? Oh… because they know us better than we know ourselves after knowing us for a split second compared to how long we’ve known ourselves. That makes perfect sense. And we sometimes believe that this is true because we’re so used to thinking that who we are as is, is somehow not good enough. We believe that we do need to be new and improved… so why not let someone else tell us how to do that!
“With friends like these, who needs enemies.”
Someone recently told me that I was elusive and that I should stop being that way. Of course they worded this in a positive way, but the subtext was negative. Why?
“People have the right to be who they are.”
What if being elusive is an intrinsic part of who I am? I should stop being who I am because someone else finds it annoying and thinks I should be someone else who is less annoying to them? To me that smacks of hypocrisy. Basically this person can’t be bothered to take the time to get to know me, so they jumped into the deep end of conclusions and assumptions, certain that they were right about me and I was wrong, while telling me that I wasn’t allowed to do that to them because they hate it when people do that to them but it’s perfectly okay for them to do that to others, to me.
“It is better to be hated for who you are, than loved for who you are not.”
I am a slow know. I’m not actually being elusive. I tell people who I am all the time through words and actions. It’s up to them to listen and notice. I am aware of what I say and do, most of the time, and I’m also aware when people haven’t listened or noticed, more often than others realise. We all are. So. I’m only elusive to those who can’t be bothered to take the time to get to know me. And in some ways that is my test to others. You know those tests… we all do them, give them to others and have to take them for others.
I’m cautious, reserved, and in no hurry to be known. I take my time getting to know others because I have learned through experience that others reveal themselves gradually, and that those who wait are rewarded by discovering beauty in its deepest expression.
Those I tend to like immediately, I often end up disliking once I know them better once the surface veneer cracks, and those I dislike when I first meet them… are some of my closest friends. I took the time to know what lay under the surface. And some of my closest friends disliked me when they first met me… relationships flow both ways, the ones which don’t…
“In the grand history of the cosmos, more than thirteen thousand million years old, our Earth is replicated elsewhere. But maybe there is another way of seeing this world. If any small variation arises-they look this way, you look that way-suddenly maybe everything changes and now you begin to wonder, what else is different? Well, one might say that you have an exact mirror image that is suddenly shattered and there’s a new reality. And therein lies the opportunity and the mystery. What else? What new? What now?” – Richard Berendzen from Another Earth (2011).
This is my selfie.
Please share your selfie… what do people discover about you when they take the time to really get to know you?