Going shopping is an interesting activity if you’re a social gazer. The life on show at a major shopping mall can be a sight for sore eyes. There are many things to see, including varying groups of people obviously tied to a certain image—an image that holds their identity firmly in place; at least for that foreseeable season of their lives.
But, it wasn’t until recently that I saw what it was for these people—be they in a shopping mall or on a road (by virtue of the kind of car or motorbike they drive or ride) or in any other situation—to live… “free” to be but a shadow of their truest selves; shackled to some betraying ideal.
Many try another person’s sense of freedom before coming to know their own. (I’ve done this myself countless times!)
They borrow a certain image by the way they dress (or what dresses them) or the way they behave and interact with society. The image borrowed from another in terms of their undivided allegiance is a mainstay until they find what it is, or more actually who, they truly are.
The polar opposite, of course, is the person who not only takes on this stereotyped image—thriving in it—they become the image, personifying it; even setting a new mark or sub-image. They create for themselves a genre of their very own within that image.
However, between these two poles there seems very little middle ground.
The freedom for the person who steps out of this image wasteland (which, at times, swallows lives whole) is quite remarkable, though the image-bound person may simply not see it.
Their very being is wrapped up in an ideal—be it good or bad. Yes, good too! The good only remains good for a time; any warping of things like personal identity, beyond the rational, sees us quite imbalanced—even after a short time… even the good extended to the extreme is a reproach.
Are you image-bound? Is there anything you do, wear, have or try that sets you apart to ‘that’ cause, ‘that’ group, or ‘that’ position in life?
The one key hope is becoming ‘who we are,’ and being comfortable in our own skin.
This has to be something that is starkly opposite to any re-invented image. If there’s anything we would otherwise align to—that we get any sense of identity from i.e. ‘in need’—then we should reflect on the cost of that thing, and what our need is saying about us as a person, and the inadequacies that hold us back.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.