So, I’ll (probably not) be the first one to point out that being consistent is not one of my top traits. Consistency is thought to be very desirable in the land I live in, where spontaneity is a trait left for children and romantic ideas. I bring this up because I feel obligated to myself and others to develop a form of consistency for survival and courtesy, so I’m trying to at least blog regularly. Obviously that hasn’t been going well, unless you have a very loose definition of “regularly”. I can always claim my goal is one post per month, and in that case I’m going above and beyond! But in truth, I was hoping more for once a week.
Now that I’ve spent a little spell berating myself, let’s move on to bigger and better things. When Googling definitions of “consistent” and “spontaneous” in a way that pertains to this discussion, we get the following:
Consistent – “(of a person, behavior, or process) unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time.”
Spontaneous – “(of a person) having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner.”
We all know the definitions of these words, but sometimes looking at the straight up definition really gives me an ah-ha moment. That came when I was actually reading the definition for spontaneous when referring to a plant: “growing naturally and without being tended or cultivated.” Isn’t that beautiful when applied to a person?
I’m going to go off on a tangent for a moment, but I promise it all comes back around the spontaneous definition for a plant. Now, there are some self-righteous believers out there that think they can’t listen to the musings of someone younger than them simply because us younglings have less life experience. Sure, this may be true. But it may also be true that you can’t discount someone based on their age because they can still be more experienced than you.
For example, I’ve been playing the violin for three months – clearly I’m no expert. A high-schooler is younger than me, with less life experience, but they can probably still provide me with some damn good advice on improving my violin playing just because they have more experience – but it has nothing to do with their age. Another example is a teenager growing up in the tough parts of the United States is likely more street smart than me, and grew up fast the hard way by having to rely on themselves from an early age. They have a DIFFERENT life experience than me, more experience with a different upbringing. What matters is that they have a different perspective, and that’s what helps us to grow and cultivate ourselves. We step outside of our self-absorbed circle and look at what other people have to offer. If we only offer up judgement instead of an open mind, we won’t be able to glean any gems from the beautiful people that surround us.
This can especially apply to children, who we may discount because we change their diapers. Then, you see something like the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, and you realize that children say things like in the movie all the time – it’s profound because they have a different view of the world than we do. Here’s a couple of lovely quotes from the movie: “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the entire universe will get busted… I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.” Another couple of favorite quotes of mine are from a movie where a child also plays the protagonist, Hugo: “I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too… Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was meant to do… Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken.”
I think that people are consistent in who they are (even if they aren’t outwardly consistent in their activities). Their experiences shaped them uniquely, and we can learn from them. Yet, according to the plant definition, really our personalities seem to develop spontaneously. They grow “naturally and without being tended or cultivated”. We are all spontaneous and consistent in the core of us, of who we are. We can grow, but I don’t believe we ever really change. You plant a pine tree and it grows in height and complexity, but it will always be a pine tree.