We all imitate. There’s not a drop of originality in any of our bones. Question is: do we choose the things we imitate, or do we do it unconsciously. Frighteningly (or not): whichever way we go will ultimately dictate the type of person we will become: a master, or a slave.
We are all immersed in a sea of experience. Our senses are always alive to sensory impressions, even when we’re asleep and, some say, even when we are in a coma. We cannot help but be affected by these impressions in some way or another. The people we admired as children, whether pop-stars or our parents, influenced the style of dress and mannerisms we adopted as we grew. It’s interesting to sit on a bench on a high-street and try to figure out who influenced the people passing by to dress and walk like they do. Probably you’ll be wrong. Possibly they don’t even know themselves. But the imitators and there imitations will be there. It’s even more interesting to do the same thing to yourself.
Look at what you’re wearing on your legs right now. Ask yourself why you chose that particular garment. I wear Levis because I liked Westerns as a kid and that’s what the cowboys wore. Maybe not that particular brand, but certainly blue jeans. Or perhaps they didn’t; but that’s how I remember it. I’m still playing a childhood game of Cowboys and Indians. Or maybe it’s not that at all. My dad wears jeans and pretty-much always has. So it’s even likelier that I picked up the habit from him (and maybe he got it from the movies. It’s a bit of idol-worship I guess. Then there are the songs: ‘I put on my jeans and I feel alright’, ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ and ‘Blue Jean, I just met me a girl named Blue Jean’. And look at the people singing those songs. And look at Jimmy Dean when you get a moment. I know; it’s so obvious, right?
Now raise your eyes to the top half of your body and do the same self-assessment. Where did you get that top? Why did you buy it? And what made you put in on today of all days? I know exactly why I wear these form-fitting t-shirts. I know why I buy them in small when I’m a medium. I can trace my thoughts back to a day by the beach on a Caribbean island when my bag was stolen whilst I was in the water so that, when I got out, I had to borrow the shirt of a friend who, before me, had penchant for tight fitting clothing. I didn’t want to give him that shirt back at the end of the day because of how good I feel it looked on me and since then I’ve been buying the same style and size of shirt over and over again.
And that’s just clothing. Everything else is an imitation too: the volume at which you speak, where you get your books, what kind of alcohol (or not) you prefer, who you like to spend time with, what kind of movies you will pay money for (and what kinds you watch when they roll around on TV), how you walk, who you give the time of day to, and a myriad of other things that you say, do and think – all imitations of what came before.
If you want to imitate well, then you can. You just have to turn it into a conscious process so that you yourself are the one making up your own mind. You just have to become more self aware so that, in the same way that you looked at your leggings and top, you do the same for every important aspect of your life. If you want to live like Madonna (the original one) and yet find yourself drawn to Machiavelli then it’s time to do a drains up.
Start with the little things and you’ll find that, with practice, that you’ll get the hang of changing them quickly enough. Then, by the time you get to the big things, you’ve got a routine in place to handle them. That and remember to have fun. Change is inevitable, and is largely outside your control; but enjoying that change is well within your remit. You just have to make your mind up how to be. You can do it.
And that’s all we have time for now, because lunch has arrived.
Yeah, not, unfortunately, literally.
I have to go make it.