In our younger years many of us worked hard to fit in, striving for sameness. Somewhat like a chameleon, we wanted to blend in wherever we went. It felt comfortable—even safe—to be like everyone else.
As we gain life experience, most of us celebrate human difference, equality, and personal choice—not only ours, but that of others.
What does it mean to be meaningfully different—different in a way that makes a positive difference? What does it mean to stand out from the crowd?
Maybe it means to zig when other zag, or to say “no” when others say “yes.” Maybe it means to minimize when others maximize, or to take a stand for something or someone when others remain seated.
What’s different about you?
“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan
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© 2012 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved
OH MY! What a photo! How in the world did you make yourselves appear so–DIFFERENT? **grin** I am different because I am myself. Because I’m not afraid to be myself. (OK, sometimes I am afraid to be myself, but I do it anyway, because the alternative is being someone else and that is a scary option!) Love your post. Couldn’t wait for Tuesday with Laurie. Last night I thought–is it Tuesday yet?
Kathy – Len and I had a blast taking that photograph (we used an application called “photo booth”). I love your answer — “I am different because I am myself.” Sadly, there are many people who can’t say the same thing; they portray what they feel others want/need them to be.
I am different because . . . I dunno. Maybe because I am not you, and because I am quite content being me? Because I walk my walk and I talk my talk and you are welcome to walk and talk with me. Or not.
Carol – I love what you’ve shared here. I’ll gladly walk and talk with you – thank you 🙂
Laurie I seem to have mostly zigged while others zagged but often didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me. I was often too busy enjoying what I was doing to worry and notice what others might find as “different.” But now I am at least someone more aware. Like when people kept smiling at me in a warm but knowing kind of way when I went to town. I eventually realized that though I had “dressed for town” I still was still recognizable as “an islander” to city folks. Then I asked myself – do I want to change this? The answer was no. So then I just smiled knowingly back.
It is more than the clothes that are different though. I have a relaxed long stride with a bit of a skip in it. I stare at things that interest me. I cringe as the garbage truck rattles by and wrinkle my nose. I then become weary after a few hours and wonder off to find a quiet corner – overwhelmed by loud sounds, the feeling of bumping into people, the vast amount of pleasant and unpleasant smells and the clutter of visual movement which doesn’t seem to have a natural rhythm – like the sea.
I suppose this makes me different. I suppose I have become comfortable with these differences. I suppose I am learning to experience them as gifts as I share my rural world, the one where a tree frog sounds loud and I can hear the munching of a deer in the underbrush and the sun streams between the trees like this morning. Yes I suppose these are some of the things that are different about me.
A great post Laurie and I LOVE the photograph.
Terrill – I love your “an islander” explanation, that was a great example! Your middle paragraph describes me to a “T” when I’m in the city (Chicago). I’m glad you enjoyed the photograph — Len and I had a blast creating it 🙂
I love the carnie picture!!! What’s different about me is that I like to live the side of new experience. I don’t like to stay inside my little turtle shell. I like to whip that shell to the side and see the world!
Have yourself a happy 54 degree Tuesday Miss Laurie!
Beth – I’m glad you like the photograph! No ma’am, you are not one to stay inside your turtle shell; you are one to shake, rattle, and roll it!
Like everyone, I am far more alike everyone else, than I am different, and I probably have a few more differences than are normal.
Some of them are quite interesting in their development, how relatively small difference can lead to differences in choice and circumstance, and have quite profound consequences for subsequent development of more classes of difference.
One for me was being tongue tied – a small flap of skin under my tongue that prevented me from make and “r” sound, or whistling, and other similar things that can seem very important to small children.
Another was having a dad who changed jobs a lot, so we moved from place to place a lot, making me the new kid, at the bottom of the pecking order.
Another was being very small for my age, until about 17, when I grew from 5’2″ to 6’2″ in just over a year.
My choice, to escape the bullying and harassment, was to read books. All sorts of books. And to observe nature.
At home I was encouraged to question, and to try things for myself. That inevitably meant making a lot of mistakes. I learned to clean up after the messes made by the mistakes and move on. To try different approaches, and to never give up.
I can see now how those early experiences, many of them very unpleasant, have given me a depth of empathy and understanding that few others share.
My love of science and of systems has given me understanding of what is happening below the surface phenomena we see that few share, and that understanding goes across all the sciences and philosophy, and stretches into many of the arts.
I now understand how brains form the connections that give us the understandings we have of the things we know, and how those understandings arise from the exposure we have to masses of experience (be that experience of action, or of perception, or of contemplation, or of abstract thought). The brain learns from what it experiences. Jeff Hawkins has done some amazing work on learning systems within our brains.
All this lets me see how I am different, and at the same time, shows me that we are all different in exactly similar ways. We are all exposed to roughly the same number of experiences in our lives, and we each have brains that learn as a result. Each of the differences in experiences leads to differences in brains, some subtle, some profound.
I now understand how Ailsa can see and feel music, as a result of playing the piano for about 5hours a day for 45 years. I know how it works, yet I cannot do it, because I haven’t played the piano for that long (or even a tiny fraction of it).
I now understand how some people experience their emotional understanding of others as colours – they really do see auras, even though there are no photons there to see, that part of their brain that normally deals with vision has been coopted to process emotions, so for them, they really do see auras, even though there is nothing physically present.
This leads on to the very interesting area of what we as individuals experience, as against what is actually outside of us, and to understanding the fact that none of us have direct access to reality. For all of us, our experience is not of reality, but of a model of reality that our brains generate for us. That model is initially built in a certain cultural context, and however much we question and reconstruct our models in later life, they always retain a certain “flavour” of the culture into which we were born.
So it is a world of difference on many different levels.
Viva la difference!
Ted – You’ve held me (and Len) captive with your thoughts and ideas. Thank you, too, for sharing some of your early life experiences. You hit it out of the park with, “So it is a world of difference on many different levels.”
Viva la difference, indeed!
That picture is amazing I love it.
In my younger years I never tried to fit in, it was more like “take me as I am” . 🙂
This also applies for the here and now as well. I think we are all different in our own way that is what makes everyone unique, and also interesting.
Magsx2 – I applaud your “take me as I am” attitude! And I love the adjectives you used: “unique,” and “interesting.”
Oh Lauarie, that is a priceles shot, I just love it. And the content of the post – thought provoking to say the least.
Being part of the herd has never been my “thing”!! I’ve always kept step to the zig-zag rhythm of the nonconvential. However with that said I have to admit that it wasn’t until sometime after 40 that I really felt I had “permission” to fully express myself – in the on-planet dance jam – via my own unique style.
I think maturity carves a winding path that leads us deeper into ourselves. It’s there that we find the courage to BE who we are – for some that stage comes with age, for others it happens outside of time. For me it was a process, one that was not easy or comfortble in the beginning but which blossomed into an outside-the-box kind of expression I know now makes a difference.
As I get older, I am amazed that what I once thought was “so different” is really “so the same”, just at a different age of development or maturity. We are all enrolled in Earth School and the curriculum is set, but at what age we choose to take each class is up to us. It is more often that I find myself seeing somebody and thinking ” I remember when that was me”. I marvel at friends enrolled in classes that I took years ago only to see them having similar challenges that I believed were unique to me. It provides an understanding that comes about later in life after many classes. It also urges me to seek out others further towards completion of the Earth School “degree” for advice. It appears that our true differences are in our appearances and perceptions, both with the ability to transform. HHmm, thanks for making me think today, just back from the island reality.
I have always felt unique and that I must cover this up as best as I could. Lots of kids felt the cancer I was born with was catching and not removed – then I could read at an extremely early age and could not do math at all and was clumsy ( spacial problems) and I worn glasses always (pop bottle bottoms) I spent many years trying to fit in….When I went to college I just decided to stop trying and work on being myself….I made a lot of mistakes at this endeavor too, but it actually has paid off well for me.
I truly know how to be alone and I truly know how to listen
I know how to learn
and I love being with myself. I have a great best friend….all the others are just icing on a lovely cake 🙂
And wow what a picture up top….made me smile from ear to ear
As a “project” last year I found the 9 people on facebook with the same name as me. So I added them all as friends. 3 ignored me. 3 added me, but then dropped me after a week. The other turned out to be very strange so one by one, I dropped them. I guess I am the only one left, making me… well, different!
Wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same
Kevin – That sounds like a very interesting Facebook project! Life would be boring — indeed — if we were all the same 🙂
Good question! I wonder…. I would say that I travel at my own speed, sometimes unbelievably slow, next at the speed of sound. Almost always off road, looking into places and things not on the well-traveled paths. I thank the Good Lord that I have never seen anything as remarkable as the Crystal Lake Gothic Couple above peering at me over the pasture fence, I would still be running!
Sandi – I think “off road” is a great descriptor! With bursts (almost to the speed of sound) between slow periods. Lawdy, lawdy if Len and I saw a couple like that peeking over the back fence at us we’d be right on your heels — running like the dickens!
Different drummer,different music,as we mature we want to satisfy our creative urges and this also makes us different.In India there is a tendecy to dehumanise the people who do small jobs in our homes.I treat them as co-human beings with respect,this is how I am different.I concur withTed’s observation about the cultural influence in the background.
Roamer – “Respect.” You just hit the nail on the head. From my perspective, it’s the very currency we should use throughout life.
That photo is a hoot 🙂 I have always been different, even when I had to depend on others I wanted and worked to be independent and just be me, so I am. I march to my own drums.
Ann – I believe I can hear those very drums all the way here in Crystal Lake, and I sure do like the way they sound 🙂
🙂 Thanks Laurie 🙂 And I am loving the sound and feel of His whispers in my spirit/soul/heart.
Wouldn’t it be awful if we didn’t learn to notice and appreciate the differences that exist? I am different than I was yesterday and different from what I will be tomorrow. I would not want to be another way.
Winsomebella – I love that you brought up “appreciation.” You said not only “notice” the difference, but to “appreciate” them as well. That ingredient (along with Roamer’s “respect” ingredient below) make for a very rich co-exhistance.
Oh boy Laurie, you are forcing me to fess up. Certainly I think my “differences” are unique, in that I can’t fathom others going to the extremes that I sometimes go to in the name of culture and entertainment. But I can only really judge who I am in contact with, and as to the rest I must surmise. Certainly I’d say that everyone would admit to differences through the years that were fueled by altered senses of appreciation, value judgements and the every evolving door of priority.
Anyway, that’s a priceless chameleon picture there of you and Len!
Sam – I enjoyed reading your thought-filled comment, especially the part about what differences may be fueled by:
– altered senses of appreciation
– value judgements
– every evolving door of priority
Glad you enjoyed the photo – we had a blast taking it!
Hi Laurie – Well sure as heck I’m different – look how late to the party I am here! haha! I’ve let who I am just ooze out of my skin all my life. Now this has not necessarily been a walk in the park, mind you, but, well, let’s just say I called myself “Crash” many times. Ziggin’ when ya shuda zagged is like oops, that didn’t go so well! I celebrate my uniqueness and I celebrate yours too. We might be different on the outside but I so believe we are all one in heart.
Susan – I love that you “ooze out of your skin!” and zig when you shuda zagged:)
Hee – hee! Tim & I are still chuckling over your picture! Tim wants to know if the app is for iPhone or Android? 🙂
Let’s see, my folks were non-conformists, but I didn’t learn to truly embrace my uniqueness or my story until I was in my 40s. I’m a homebody. I can’t wink! I refuse to wear make-up or get a perm or have my hair colored. I’m a tender-hearted dreamer who loves all things natural and authentic and am no longer afraid to flaunt it…
The more we embrace our differences the more united we become!
Barbara – I love, Love, LOVE the self-description you shared 🙂 Please tell Tim that we used the “photo booth” app on my MacBook Pro to make that alien photograph (and had a blast doing it)!
Thanks, Laurie! Tim found a similar app for his Android and has already cracked me up with his first shot. 🙂
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