The Little Death

I have been growing the neck beard out lately, much to the chagrin of people
who know me. I must confess it does look awful, all scraggly and unkempt. Some
people grow nice full beards, but all mine ever seems to do is grow down, not
out. Still, I have got to make out for my losses up top somehow. I do this
about once a year, partly to see if it looks better (it never does), but mostly
just to prove a point to myself: that I still am myself and not what others
want me to be.

To be a part of a society is to conform to that society. To uphold a common
set of rules and standards. In many ways this is a good thing, you probably
would not like to live next to someone who thought arson was ok. This gives
rise to the good side of society: our laws. There is an inverse side though, an
insidious side: the drive to create automata. Automata (singular automaton), as
Wikipedia defines, is “a
self-operating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to follow
automatically a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to
predetermined instructions”. What is an automaton as it relates to a person
though? It is a person who has lost their identity, who has become what society
expects of them. It is a person who gets married, has 2.5 kids while working 60
hours a week. It is a person who works 40 years and retires at 67, who owns a
house, likes football, and vacations once a year. Yet, despite how negative I
have made this all sound, there is nothing wrong with this if that is what you
want. Not surprisingly, If you were to look at the things I like (football),
and the the things I want (a house), you would see the automaton reflected in
me. Is that what I want or am I just playing along because that is what
everyone wants for me?

This is the the little death. It is the slow subjugation of yourself as you
integrate into a society. Each time you think to yourself, “Well, it is just
what people do.” or “That is what everyone else is doing.” a little part of
yourself dies. A unique piece of the multifaceted color of you goes gray. Make
no mistake, this is what some people who know you want. They want you to be
like them, they want you to like the things they like, to have the same goals,
the same aspirations. They are not evil for trying to do this, it is just their
nature. If that is what you to want, great, but if not, do not suffer that
little death.

So too do I often wonder if the things I like and want our my own wishes or
simply my desire to be part of society. How can I prove otherwise? How can I
prove I am my own man. Simple, do the things society shuns, do those things
that are frowned upon, relish the embarrassed laugh you get when you surprise a
person. Cherish that look of disgust and disappointment. This is not an excuse
to be a bad person, but an excuse to be you. So yes, my neck beard is awful,
but it proves I am me.

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