Thursday, May 29, 2014

Difference of Being

I have always been fascinated with what makes people different.  Every single one of us is different in some aspect or another, and while I understand it is human nature to want to surround ourselves with the familiar - with those people who are most like us - even within the province of similarity I am most intrigued with the differences.

I work and live with a group of people who were raised in the same general area as I was raised.  Outsiders would consider us all Midwesterners; in fact everyone in the group, save myself, would agree with those outsiders.  Of the five of us, each of our home towns are within fifty miles of each other.  On a global scale, we were born and raised within a stone's throw distance from each other.  The only dramatic difference between any of us is our age range.  I am the youngest, sitting pretty on the last leg toward the top of the hill, and the other span a range of twenty-five years.

There are a lot of things that are similar between us.  For the most part, we rarely argue about religion or politics.  Most of our views on these subjects either align completely or fall into the realm of indifference.  In fact, the greatest disparity among us is traditionally our sense of humor.  It seems to range from very dry and clean to filthy and oozing with innuendo.

Yet, something happened today that made me feel a little bit like Texas sports anchor Dale Hansen when he said, "I don't understand his world, but I do understand he is a part of mine."

As part of duties of my occupation, I spend a lot of time with a group of women.  Our time together is spent cleaning.  We're basically housekeepers, but on a larger scale.  Today's task was spring cleaning a large common area that had only been used as a catchall for recent company purchases since last fall.

In an attempt to "get our blood pumping" and "get us psyched" to get into the the nitty gritty filth of our cleaning project, our wonderful employer took it upon herself to select some music that she felt would be the best way to motivate the unmotivated.

It wasn't that we weren't into the cleaning.  After all, who really wants to spend their Saturday on hands and knees scrubbing who-knows-what off the floor.  The temperature hadn't risen above forty all day, and the building wasn't heated.  The sky had that steel grey look of impending rain, and the wind whipped branches and fallen leaves across the yard and cut through any amount of layered clothes.  And our schedules were overrun.  I had just come off of two twelve-hour shifts and was looking forward to at least two more.

Needless to say, we were tired, depressed, moody, and facing a seemingly insurmountable cleaning project.

Like I said, our employer saw this and took actions to do something about it.  She put together a play list of "uplifting" songs that were meant to get our feet moving and lift our spirits enough to start cleaning.

I can hear you asking, "What were these wonderful songs?"  Allow me to share a sample:

Rocky Mountain High by John Denver, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys by Willie Nelson, and Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town by Kenny Rogers were three of the highlights from the list.

My knee-jerk reaction to this type of song was initially very strong.  As someone who likes upbeat music I have a different opinion of what is going to motivate people to do shitty work.  Even if I were going to take into account the "rainbows and unicorns" type of personalities of the rest of my cleaning crew, I probably still would have chosen song by Pink or Christina Aguilera or perhaps Maroon 5.

My employers list sounded like something a tired, broken man would listen to in the middle of a rainy night and a bottle of scotch.

I wanted to laugh and ask her if she was serious, but I couldn't because she was floating around the room from task to task singing along with her dirge of musical choices.

So, instead of reacting poorly to a decision that she was clearly proud of, I was instead in awe of our differences.

As I stated, she was raised no more than fifty miles from where I was raised, and in this particular instance there isn't more than ten years of age between us.  Yet the music that she finds upbeat and uplifting is music that I would have playing as background to a suicide attempt.

How can that possibly be?

We both have fairly similar backgrounds - at least, at the early development stages, and yet somewhere along the lines she veered off into one realm of musical interest and I veered off into another.  And it isn't even the type of music, or genre, that confuses me.

I wouldn't question that she predominately enjoys country music while I enjoy rock/pop.  That wouldn't be an issue.  It's that the type of music she sees as motivating is so clearly and obviously different from my own.  In my ever growing "Running" playlist, one of the staples that has never changed is Sabotage by Beastie Boys.  That's a song that can really get a person's butt moving.  One of her song choices for "butt moving" uplifters was Old Man by Neil Young.

Now, before anyone starts arguing the musical validity of any of her choice, let me reassure everyone that all of her choices are songs that I would listen to, and most of them are on my iPod.  They just aren't songs that I would consider "motivating" (unless you're trying to motivate yourself into depression).

I don't really have a point with this tirade, other than to create an awareness about the differences between us, and how small they really are.

We all get bent out of shape about people like Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling because they prove exactly how far humanity has come in the last two-hundred years (which is clearly not all that far).

Wouldn't be simpler to simply acknowledge and accept the differences, like I did with my employers choice of music, than to force your opinion on others?

I'm not sure my new motto will be accepted with open arms, but I believe the phrase, "Equality through Apathy and Indifference" is a great slogan.  I don't care what you do, why you do it, or how.  Be yourself and let me be myself, and we'll get along.

It's those differences, no matter how small, that cause rifts in our lives because all we want is a homogenized world - even if (a crippling ignorant) half the world doesn't want the prefix homo- to be any part of that world.

That's all.