Saturday, May 21, 2011
there are those of us, who, i suspect, find a "groove" in life and just stick with it. think of liza minnelli and her never-changing haircut. i think the reasoning is: it works, so why change it? i think that personality can be described in this way as well--at least aspects of personality. i subscribe to the theory that personality is never set--there is not a fixed "self"--and yet this same theory also proposes the idea of an innate "temperament": qualities of ourselves that do not change because they are part of our genetics. examples of this would be our intelligence level, sociality (introversion or extroversion), adaptability, sensitivity, and irritability. of course, all of these qualities are also affected by our environment, but what i am saying here is that despite these effects, our temperaments pretty much remain constant throughout our entire lives.
but some things change.
i believe that the things that cannot be categorized as "temperament" change more often in artists than they do in people who are not artists. why? i am not sure, as my conclusion is based primarily on personal experience, as well as observation. but i suspect that i came to this by noticing that certain aspects of innate temperament, for instance, sensitivity and sociality, even intelligence, are heightened in artists. in my way of thinking, these heightened "fixed" characteristics have an effect on some of the changeable aspects of our personalities: perspective, empathy, mindfulness, compassion, ambition, and self expression.
last night, during a self-imposed quarantine due to a nasty cold, i watched the film motorcycle diaries, which is the story of che guevara's youthful travels through south america with his best friend.
it was a wonderful movie--i can't believe it took me so long to watch it! but i bring the film into the conversation here because it was during the course of his travels through the continent that che changed, primarily due to the amount of poverty and injustice he witnessed amongst the indigenous people of chile and peru. and as a result of this change, the seeds of a revolutinary were planted. the point of interest for this blog post is that the change occurred during his travels. and from what i saw in the film and have read online about him since, the changes were not to his temperament, but to the changeable aspects of personality.
this is not surprising! theories of personality state that change is often observed as a result of a "feeling process", and usually occurs in the context of a personal relationship. well, both of these were certainly present during che's journey through south america!
why are so many movies made about road trips? my guess is that it is during travels that change occurs with the highest frequency. additionally, in most of these films, people are travelling with someone, setting into motion the two prerequisites for change mentioned above. think "thelma and louise", "easy rider", "it happened one night", even "the wizard of oz".
and this is why, when people ask me why i have to leave los angeles, i tell them that i am interested in the change that will occur. in order to maximize the change potential, i will have to make sure that there is both a feeling process and a context of personal relationship happening during my moving adventure. of course, for me, settling into a place will not end the "road trip", since it may take a year or so to "travel" through my new neighborhood and discover places and people. but i will welcome the change--change that i don't think will happen if i stay here in los angeles (perhaps due to the lack of the requisite feeling process and relationship context). i think that perhaps there is something that happens when we go somewhere else that facilitates feeling processes and relationships. in fact i am pretty sure of this.
so what would i like to change? good question. i would certainly like to change perspective. perspective on what, you ask? well, perspective on people, primarily, but also perspective on myself and on relationships. perspective on friendships. perspective on love. perspective on engagement, interdependency, and aging. i would be happy to start with these areas of change.
when i travel up to san francisco next month for vacation, i will be going up with only my cheapie cell phone (it makes and takes calls and texts--no web)--no smartphone, no laptop, no netbook, nothing else. i intend to be "disconnected" from the internet for two whole weeks. i will have to rely on my ability and willingness to engage with others in order to establish any context of personal relationship. in a way, you could say that i am disconnecting in order to reconnect. i am "travelling" away from the safety and security of the internet, and back to the way things used to be done--in person, through personal engagement. i am excited! i intend to take a notebook and a couple of pens so that i can journal in coffee shops and write down future blog post ideas. (when was the last time you saw anyone writing in a notebook in a coffee shop??) i will return to los angeles via the coast, and it will take a week. i will be crew member (for the 4th time!) with the aids life/cycle, and let me tell you, if anything could be called a "road trip", this would certainly qualify! a road trip with incredible and guaranteed potential for feeling processes and personal relationships! along the way, i hope to be reminded of what people (including myself) are capable of: kindness, generosity, caring, creativity, and fun. all along the way i hope to encounter examples of this, and if things go well, i will offer examples of the same.
los angeles is a shitty city (there, i said it!). people here are mean, lonely, needy, and self-involved. and i am tired of being one of them.
i need a change.