The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine      October 24, 2003    PAGE EIGHT      
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      Content Links

 News & Product of the Month
 The Scary Cost of Groceries
 Meeting the Challenge
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 Brenda's Low Carb Good Life
 When Everyday is the 13th
 Recipes: Cookin' with Pumpkin
 Identity Crisis
 Cooking with Jarret Hughes
 Obese In The Workplace: Pt 2
 Taking a Bite out of Stress
 Learning to Exercise


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             Identity Crisis by Aaron Gillum

Aaron Gillum's views of society, tempered with a quick wit and an acerbic writing style, make his columns both fun, and unique. With each issue, Aaron offers a fresh perspective into the catalysts that drive society; weaving these observations into refreshing, provocative pieces.

                                          "We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror."
                                                                      Marshall McLuhan

Growing up, I was a "The" and you were too. As we've grown and the world has progressed around us, we've all been relegated to an "A". Perhaps you were the smart kid or the trouble maker. Maybe you were the oldest, the youngest, or the junior varsity backup quarterback.

Regardless of which fell upon you, you had a title of sorts and as inaccurate as your given title might have been, it gave you a place in the world... and culpability. Each label, however erroneously put on your head, tied you to your family and to your immediate community. Sure, most of us spent our youth trying to rebel from the identities put upon us, but at least we had something to fight and people around us that noticed enough to give us the title in the first place. If nothing else, the struggle to prove the title wrong was ours alone and defined our place in the world.

Today, however, things have changed. Now we are called a teacher, a wife, a husband, a student, a customer or any of the hundreds of other generic labels we toss around daily. In many situations we are addressed only as a number. The true scale of the world opens up before us and with the wrong train of thought, we can believe ourselves to be insignificant and even common. We are, in effect, camouflaged within the herd by our zebra stripings of social security numbers and account I.D's. Beneath our unique names, we are anonymous pieces of the collective. Reduced to statistics and market segments; relegated to numbers for the sake of efficiency.

With all due respect to Senator Clinton, I don't believe it takes a village to raise a child, but rather a small neighborhood. The hunter-gatherer human psyche was not formed to cope with the large over-crowded areas we share today and the accompanying anonymity. We were not built to co-exist with hundreds of complete strangers on our way to work or school while crammed into tin cans on rails or fighting through waves of traffic on the expressway.

Walk down the sidewalk of any major urban area and symptoms are obvious. Downcast gazes and avoidance postures show not only that we are uncomfortable in these situations, but that we will go so far as to pretend those other people don't even exist. And what happens when we see that person who walks through the crowds on the sidewalk with shoulders square, head held high, and no air of invisibility about him? Why, we single them out as trouble and take an extra step to avoid them, of course. Rightfully so, I suppose, as they seem so at ease in the chaos. Don't label it as rude behavior. Instead, call it the coping mechanism of an uncomfortable primate trying to form a more naturally sized peer group within our stressful concrete lives. Personally, I find it interesting that much of the socially deviant behavior in our world, such as serial murder, did not fully manifest itself until the industrial age and the ensuing growth of major metropolitan centers.

If this were simply one more piece of stress added to the pile in our adult lives, it would not alarm me at all. However, I think of the dramatic increase of random violence in today's youth and I can't help but find a correlation between this rise and the fact that we are watching the first 100%, fully wired, internet generation come of age. Not only are they growing up in these overcrowded surroundings, but they have the wealth of the internet library woven into their lives. The true size of the world is being placed in front of them long before the age at which such thoughts crossed our minds. At an age when I was unaware of anything outside my backyard, they are browsing web sites from all over the world and with some digging, finding the ugly main course to accompany the evening news' appetizer. Childhood innocence fades much faster these days with assembly line daycare institutionalizing some before they even enter grade school. They are cursed with awareness before they have developed the proper social skills to cope with it, leaving them feeling insignificant and powerless. In desperation, some of them have made the sad choice to become the kid with a gun, rather than a nerd, a failure, a fat kid, or a lost cause.

We all strive to be a "The", though perhaps we can't put our finger on exactly what that entails. The lack of an identifiable role is the nagging hole you know is there but can't seem to define. There's something comforting about knowing your place in the world. I wish I knew my own.

I stopped at a farmer's market outside of town the other day to pick up a pumpkin for Halloween, and I caught a glimpse of the goal. The market wasn't much more than a card table and a cigar box full of small bills for making change, but it was manned by an elderly farmer who exuded that feeling of calm confidence and peace I wish I could find for myself. I realized then that this man had done it.

He had made his place in the world, but he had the wisdom not to create his own "The" in the image that would attempt to please the whole world. He had instead, shrunk the world around him to a manageable size so that his "The" was recognized effortlessly.

The grandfather.   The war veteran.   The pumpkin farmer.   The old man who always carries the dusty red handkerchief.

Coming full circle from childhood, his world didn't go much further than his own backyard. A small kingdom perhaps, but he was the king without question.

                                                               

Copyright © October 2003  Aaron Gillum and Low Carb Luxury





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