Identity: All in Perception?

I was thinking about my first post, and how I could argue that I’m the lowest of the low in the human race and turn around using the same categorizations that I fit and describe myself as a very privileged individual.  Thanks to those people in my life who I’ve learned this skill from over the years!  It’s helpful to be able to argue one thing and turn around and argue it the other way a split second later.

Another influence to this post is a video of Bill Maher and some others, including Slash. It could be argued that the discussion itself merits it to be valuable. It could also be argued that because the discussion lacks a vital half of the population to partake in the discussion, the discussion is unfair without all voices present.

The video could also be argued as purely humorous as well. Nevertheless, it felt fitting for the post as it shows Slash (who I’ve only known as a guitarist more or less) in a setting which doesn’t have him performing musically, but instead focuses on identity and perceptions even if only a narrow perception. Getting back to me though…

I’m a male, which you could argue that is notorious for forms of abuse to their partners and/or children.  They get in bar fights with their drunken buddies and cause damage to the pub and to each other.  The male came over from Europe and started out a search for new areas to colonize where they discovered North America.  At least it’s males who are noted to be explorers from what I hear and read.  It’s them who, with their (perhaps Western values?) values of greed and gluttony that decided land could and should be owned .  They worked out a way to give themselves more power over land that was previously inhabited by people with a completely different set of values and beliefs which (by my understanding) was more thankful for what was given to them rather than desiring to take advantage of everything they could find.

I’m also a white male, known to be able to have all the success and privilege desired in our
Western society.  I’m also a person with a physical disability, one who has had to attend days of various medical appointments, seating appointments, be assisted by Personal Support Workers for personal tasks that others can do by themselves and therefore without opinions of others coming into the mix about what is best and what is not. There’s a plethora of things that go along with having a physical disability that are less than entertaining and pleasurable.

But then I start to also see that there are situations where my teacher has recommended I go from point A to point B first so I can leave the classroom before the throngs of classmates block my path.  I see the bus driver telling people to wait while they lower the bus and fold out the ramp for me to enter first.  I see the throngs of people outside the bus at busy stops when I’m simply trying to exit the bus.  I see all these people and I start to feel like I must be worthy of being video recorded by someone in the crowd that might be in the paparazzi.  I want to put my hand over a camera so it can’t grab a picture of me because I want my privacy.  I feel like I should pull my jacket or shirt up over my head to hide my identity from the plethora of people who I forget are simply waiting to board the bus to get wherever they are destined to go on the given day.  Little do I recall that the reason that these people are really waiting is much more of a give away of who I am than a real celebrity.  Oh right, and I should mention that I’m referring to this celebrity comparison to suggest that physical disability can be looked at in a privileged way, though you could take “celebrity” and argue the pros and cons of it to make it out as good or bad too.  But back on topic: Who can hide a wheelchair with a jacket?  I haven’t tried, but I don’t think I can that well.  I might require two or three to cover different sections if I want it all hidden.  One of those rain ponchos would be a better bet, but they often get caught in my wheels or under my wheels if I’m not watchful of where it’s sitting.

Long story short, who I am is all in perspective.  What I do with who I am is my choice, and can only be influenced by me, myself and I.  I know that’s a lot of people, but it is what it is.  I can take suggestions from others—I can hear out the opinions of others.  But if I think about the celebrity concept—if I drowned myself in the opinions of others, well I might as well be dead because some opinions of celebrities out there are pretty varied or just plain negative.  I feel we forget that they’re human, even if what the media tells us about them suggests that they’re complete and utter psychos.  I don’t want to live the life where I’m so obsessed with what everybody thinks.  I’d rather do my own thing, and influence people to think for themselves; to be who they want to be.  I mean, my given name happens to be Nicholas, and a quick google search for “name meaning Nicholas” shows that the name which comes from the words “nike” meaning “victory” and “laos” meaning people ultimately means “victory of the people.”

It might not have been as out of the blue as me picking a middle name for my sister when I was around 4 years old, but I’m willing to guess that my parents probably didn’t scour the meanings of various names to figure out what meaning they wanted to go along with me.  They might have; I’ve never asked.  But I feel it’s me taking what was given to me and choosing to make something of it. That aside, I’ve known for years that I’ve wanted to help people, regardless of my name or whatever labels I hold.

I struggle with this idea that you have to have something to say you’re something.  I guess because here I’ve argued you can have something, be something or be nothing with that something with just the amount of time it takes to give the explanation of it being something or nothing.  Philosophical isn’t it?  Not necessarily, it’s just explaining away the realm of existence (or something like that.)

I’ve been told I write well, and that I express opinions well through writing.  You can be the judge of that as you follow this blog.  I’m not going to say.  I just know that writing out thoughts and ideas is positive in my eyes.  I can express views on the world and everything around me that sparks an idea for writing.  Whether I’m the first trillionaire on wheels, or one of potentially many that are below the poverty line who are on wheels, as long as I do something I enjoy I might as well keep going.  At least I have something, my own self fashioned identity through my own perspective.

Meaning & Music

I’ll never be a huge rap or hip hop fan. It all just depends on the individual song, the sound and perhaps if it has a message behind it.  However, I tend to find I have respect for a variety of people who have shown they’ve been through things in life and come out of it on their own two feet (or four wheels, whatever the case might be) managing fine or even excelling in the world doing good. Over the last while I’ve been kind of curious who Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were. I’d heard covers of Can’t Hold Us on youtube, seen the names in the comments or titles of the videos. But I never really knew them by any means.

I’d heard the song Same Love, but never paid any more attention to it than other mainstream songs. Lately I don’t really know overly much about what is “hip” or what’s flopped. I occasionally check out the radio and I’m on the internet a reasonable amount to enable me to come across the latest Miley Cyrus or Eminem track on YouTube. That’s not to say they’re the only artists, just a couple that are around in today’s music scene. The names came to me at random.

I tend to take more interest these days in the concept of independent artists, those on the one end of the spectrum who are trying to get their name out there and be known. When I compare this to the other end of the spectrum, where you can’t go anywhere without hearing the artist’s name mentioned on some level at some point, it intrigues me. I would probably want to be in between the two extremes if I had a choice. But alas, through following your dreams and/or passions, you can achieve that middle ground or the extreme level of fame—but at the expense of hours of hard work and effort. The best things can be the hardest things to achieve.

It was interesting to hear that Macklemore got to where he has in an independent fashion, rather than through a record label, when giving his acceptance speech at the 2014 Grammy awards. I had never thought of that kind of thing happening, though I like to think I’m rather open minded and that I believe anything is possible. It’s just that you don’t know for sure what is possible until it’s been done. Often once it’s done, it becomes done again, and again, and again. I suppose independent artists have had success before with the advent of YouTube in recent years, any artist can throw a song/video online and watch the views grow.  This is one of Macklemore’s videos, Same Love, which I happen to think has a good message to it and with the piano and parts sung by Mary Lambert also has a pleasing sound to my ears:

I came across a video of him speaking about this song in the video below:

It got me thinking about what I’d like to do in life. I’d like to be able to inspire others, help them grow in their own lives and create better relationships with others. I’d enjoy having people be able to come and tell me that something I said or did had some sort of positive effect on their lives. Whether I affect a person directly, or affect people around a person to effect positive change doesn’t matter. There are cases where there is injustice, and there are cases where people are unjust to the mortal coil which they have been given.

Another influence on where I want to go in life happens to be the Fermented Oranges. I enjoy listening to try and figure out meaning in the lyrics, or just for the general sound. But with a lot of music when I listen, I try to understand what the artist is singing about or what their lyrics are trying to suggest. Their sound is a sound I can listen to for hours and hours easily, whereas I’m less likely to sit and listen that long to hip hop or rap music.  If I’m sitting and listening to music for awhile I start to pay attention to the lyrics, as I said.  The following is an example, it seems to suggests the fragility and impermanence of things, perhaps relationships or otherwise. It might also be suggesting that we should spend more time loving each other for who we are in the moment, because when the moment is gone we won’t have it anymore. If we’re not careful, we can lose anything and everything that matters to us. You can give the song, Harm’s Way, a listen below:

Varied, though the music these two bands/artists represent are, they’re just two that I’ve come across whom have had an influence on me. There are lots of things I could focus on in life. I could amass dozens of PhD’s and become the world’s most educated person, along with the world’s most educated person with a physical disability. I could sit around grumbling about why everything is horrible. I’ve progressed in both of these potential goals within my nearly 3 decades here. But I’m not sure that either is ideal. Nothing is perfect, but nothing lasts forever either. Regardless of degrees, it’s easy to keep learning every day through communicating with others and through reading or watching television and movies or videos. It doesn’t have to be a race to be bigger and better. But doing so is probably more productive than the grumbling option. But in the end, might as well make the most of what is, supporting each other as one and learning as we go.