Blog No. 43

We are all more than the sum of our parts.  There are millions of individual aspects that make up who we are and how we see the world.  At no point is it my intention to get philosophical on this blog, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid.  I’m most likely going to be skirting the line today (we’ll see).  What you definitely won’t see today is a bunch of unanswerable questions.  I’m not interested the meaning of life (it’s 42 by the way).  I just wondered why I have so many similarities with my family and friends (and a few really big differences).

I’ve posted before about being a car guy.  While I would like to consider myself a car guy, I sometimes feel like a fraud.  By that I mean I know a lot about cars and I know how they work (I can do basic maintenance) but I don’t maintain my cars nearly as well as my dad.  If you want to see a car guy, he’s the best example I know.  Not only did he work in the industry for forty years, but his ten-year-old cars look better than many year-old cars.  Comparatively I tend to think of my car as filthy, but I often get told by my friends that it is in fact rather clean.  I enjoy cars, my brothers enjoy cars and my dad enjoys cars.  I think it’s pretty easy to see the connection there.  We grew up with our dad working in the garage and washing the cars every week.  We all got jobs at fifteen so that we can buy a car after we got our license.  We were taught to do our own oil change and to learn to do most maintenance on our own.  It’s no surprise that I am a car guy.  It’s in my blood.

Similarly I love old movies from watching them with my mom (I get my love of Motown from her too).  My brothers taught me all about the joys of hockey (playing and watching) and my friends got me into computers and other tech (back when a 14.4 modem was blazing).  A lot of the things I am into have come from the people around me (and all of those people are around me by choice).  But what about the things my family and friends are into that I couldn’t care less about?  I have good friends that hunt, golf and read books on business (among many other things).  All those things that make up them have made no impact on me (other than to put me to sleep – I’m talking to you golf).

On the other side, where did I get my interests that I don’t share with my friends and families?  I have a deep passion for literature.  While many of my friends are big readers, the friends I have that are lit buffs I made while at school (so they already shared the interest).  Even among that group, I am probably the only one whose main interest in science fiction.  (Just to clarify what I consider the difference between a big reader and a lit buff; big readers like to talk about the story where lit buffs talk almost exclusively about theme, motifs and imagery).

I have spent the majority of this post focusing on likes and interests, but the same thing applies to deep seeded characteristics like our morals and beliefs.  Again, the majority of those personal building blocks come from the people around us.  It’s usually a fairly obvious connection but even if we are forced to interact with certain people we are influenced by them.  We can’t help but react to our environment and that can mean to either be more like the people we admire or to be less like the people we abhor.  I grew up religious (as many people I know have).  Personally I was able to work within that system and found a lot of people I could admire there.  Some of my friends reacted differently and rejected the system.  Not to say that none of them were able to find something within it to respect, but the story I most hear is that they had to deal with someone abhorrent and grew from reacting against them.  Either way there is growth, but sometimes it’s more difficult than others.

The people we know aren’t the only things that influence who we are.  We can be changed (drastically in some cases) by the things we see, read or hear.  Really it’s still people in a different form, but it still amazes me that every book I read changes me.  I’ve always said that we take what we need from art (whether it’s a book, movie or sculpture).  Art is a collaboration between the creator and the consumer (or reader and writer in this case).  I can write this from my own perspective and see one angle in it, but you will read it through your experiences and take away what you see (which could be similar to what I intended or something I couldn’t have thought of).  Either way we are both changed from the experience.  You become a little more you and I become a little more you too.

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