2 : monotony, uniformity
Have you read The Giver? If you haven't, I humbly suggest you do and I'll warn you that this blog post will probably reveal far too much of the plot of the book to you. So you might want to stop reading this and go read it right now. If you have read The Giver, were you as struck as I by the similarities to our own world? Or is it just my life?
You see, in this book an entire community has been devoted to sameness. People wear the same clothes, children wear their hair the same way and everyone sees everything in literally black and white. It's the ability to see the color red that makes Jonas different, that makes him The Receiver. Jonas is chosen to receive, hold and bear the collective memories of the community for generations back. It's only in these memories that things like sunshine, color, war, animals and pain live on. Because those things don't exist in Jonas' world.
Shortly after Jonas begins receiving memories, he learns about color and asks The Giver, "Why did colors disappear?"
The Giver shrugged. "Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished that when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences." He thought for a moment. "We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others."What things do we give up in our own lives in order to have control of other things? I'm sure none of us go so far as to not see color - the very idea horrifies me. But have I tried so hard to control my emotions that I feel nothing? Yes and I am trying to let go and feel. It's a very hard and painful process to allow my emotions to surface, to actually feel them. Yet it's an essential tool in the battle to fight sameness.
I've had occasion lately to realize how quickly I can bottle up my feelings, especially when they are strong or threaten to overwhelm. J's recent promotion has elicited a lot of fear. Fear about a variety of things, but with an underlying theme of the fear of change. I feel like telling God, "Enough with change already. Let me just be for a while!" But that's not happening and one small but significant change is that I am letting myself feel my fear. I am listing my fears aloud and in my mind and sometimes even crying over them. I'd rather do this than not feel at all.
Several years ago, the girls and I listened to the audio book of A Wrinkle in Time. I remember the scene where the children have arrived on another world and they sense that something is wrong here, but can't place it at first. Then they realize that all of the children are bouncing their balls in unison, each ball striking the ground and arcing back up at exactly the same time, all down the street. I was so struck by the fact that we are not all meant to be the same. That's completely counter to what God intended. He meant - and means - for us to be gloriously different. He means for us to see the colors, feel the sunshine - and experience the pain or fear.
I don't even think God wants sameness within an individual. We are meant to grow, to change, to be different at 38 than we were at 18 or 28. Because life's experiences change us - or they should, if we're really experiencing them.
Do you fight sameness in yourself? Do you embrace the ways you are more of one thing, less of another? Do you fight sameness in others or encourage? Do you surround yourself with those who think and feel differently? I have a dear friend who recently told me she had a difficult time with an hour or so of silence at a workshop. Given my penchant for and love of silence, I smiled at her admission. But I'm so thankful that she is different than me. Because she sees things about me that I can't even see and she names them for me. I don't want you to be like me - or anyone else. Nor do I want to be like you. I just want to be more like me. A little more every day.