Thursday, January 26, 2006


Let me break the silence of my blog with something different - sameness...

Today, I hit snooze. Same as usual.

I got up and biked to work the same way I always do. My front gear changer was the same – broken. I parked in the same inadequate bike rack. Wore the same shoes. Sat at the same desk doing the same tedious work. And talked to the same people about the same things. The problem with the photocopier was fixed, but won’t be long before the same thing happens again. At least I didn’t need to worry about all my work, it was the same. Looked outside to see the same view through the same little windows while uncomfortably hot because the same feeble air conditioner was running just the same – pathetically. So pathetically that it would make you angry, if you were in the same position.

My work mate speaks Russian on the telephone, but to me it all sounds the same. So, I biked home through the park, noticed the same ducks. My insurance bill had arrived, but I didn’t need to worry about it either – it was the same as last year’s.

So now I sit here at the same computer wearing the same glasses with the same hair-style as usual, looking at my cactus plant that looks just the same even though I’m told it’s growing. My table is the same. My CDs are the same. My room, my car, my interests, what I do with my time, my friends… I – am the same.

In fact, there’s really only one thing that is out of the ordinary – I’ve realised how much things are the same! Of course, that got me thinking how much things are different… like the fact that today I cleaned a BBQ that wasn’t even mine. And today there were an unusually large number of ducks swimming in Hagley Park pond.

So how much of life is the same, and how much is different? Is there a certain ratio that’s good?

I think it’s easy to notice the different things that happen to us, and imagine that they make life varied and interesting. But they don’t. We expect new and different situations to arise – the unexpected is the same. I don’t often think of my reactions and the things I choose to do, and how much they are the same. Yet, I think they are far more important.

Getting into a mental rut is boring, because it fills my life with sameness… day after day. It’s not that the world not exciting and dynamic and full of exciting adventures just waiting to be enjoyed, it’s that I’m the same. I choose to be the same, act the same, think the same.

Why don’t I do something different? Why not add a deliberate non-sameness to my life, and choose to do something unusual each day? I suppose sameness is comforting. It doesn’t require us to learn anything new, or experience anything different… sameness affords us certainty of the future. It’s like animals that are raised in captivity when they are released into the wild and are too afraid of new things to be free. That is what sameness does to people.

After all, we are free. So why imprison myself in the chains of sameness, all the time wishing that my life could be different. Not much different, I think – but just not the same. Cause that’s the other thing about sameness, it doesn’t give us a chance to grow. Living the same is like a great deciduous oak tree that has dried up and died – it just sits there, the same. But if the same oak is alive, it goes through the splendid changes of the seasons. In spring the leaves burst out and change its colour, which turns brilliant orange in autumn and makes fun piles of leaves to play in.

If a tree can know how to escape sameness, maybe I can too.