Friday, July 29, 2011

Fictionless Friday: Defining Definition

Definition creates separation. We are all, as individuals, seeking definition in our lives, our souls, our relationships. I myself am filled with definitions. I am Asian-American, I am a fangirl, I am a foodie. Defining my character traits helps me feel self-aware, confident, and acknowledged.

But it doesn’t stop there. I know other people place definitions on me as well. Some based on simple observation, others based on years of conversations and shared experiences. It’s a natural part of relating to someone – trying to understand who they are and how they fit in this world.

Then there are the definitions that hang in society – liberal, conservative, green, pro-life, anti-gun – categories in which we can be grouped and counted. You are this or you are that. Middle grounds are also categorized. You are never without definition.

Yet all of this defining creates separation from the universal truth that we are all one. Scientists have determined that the variation in human beings comprises less than 1% of our makeup. All the different skin colors, hair textures, heights and weights don’t alter the fact that we are all, at our core, basically the same.

But how can anyone anchor this truth in a world where the contrary thrives? People wear their definitions with pride. Look at the entire bumper sticker industry. 4 x 12 banners that announce who we are to an unsuspecting auto world.

The entire dilemma is a question for the ages, I suppose. Can we be unique individuals while also knowing we are connected as one through time and space? Can we choose to shift back and forth through this knowing, celebrating our differences in one moment and returning to our center truth in another?

This movement is probably the texture of life. Humans shift through definitions until they discover what it’s all about, then spend the rest of their days trying to balance the two. Am I one being or part of the being of one?

I feel this conflict most when I walk into a Chinatown. Doesn’t matter which city – they’re all the same. Being there causes my definitions to swirl around me. I sense the eyes of non-Asian visitors and know they’re looking at me thinking, “She fits in here better than I do.” Yet I look at the bakeries and bookstores and remind myself, “I am not Chinese. I am Taiwanese.” A subtle yet powerful distinction that’s deeply rooted in my identity and causes me to never buy anything made in China. And still, the steamed pork buns and lo mein are all things I ate growing up, so maybe I am of this place. Ultimately, I don’t feel solely defined by my ethnicity, but being in a Chinatown makes my ethnicity seem glaringly obvious.

Will there ever be a day when I can walk through the decorated, cacophonous streets of a Chinatown and feel like I’m simply a global citizen coming to experience the wonders of a specific culture? Perhaps. Can I walk through a Chinatown and not be seen by others as separate from themselves, no matter what their ethnicity may be? Less likely.

We are a world defined. It’s what we do. What reason do we have to let go of this comforting activity and become a global community? The promise of peace? The energizing vibration of a higher consciousness? Sell that to Sarah Palin.

I cannot change the way people think. It is neither my place nor within my power. But as an individual, I continue to move toward releasing my definitions. I can only hope that by doing so, I can inspire a similar response from others. My vibration affecting others. That is the dream.

And for me, letting the black and white shades of my identity go is a relief. The less I hold on to, the more room I have for the spiritual truth of this world, which is love. Love, love, love. It is everywhere, and yet I don’t always feel it. The hope is that by letting go, I’m making room for it to flood in, fill me up, and surround my life.

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