Why can’t I be you?
Later I realized we really weren’t different, that we had more similarities than differences. It’s a funny thing about outcasts, especially those that stress individuality like we did; often those are the most exclusive cliques and subcultures you will find. To join up you have to be different; and the moment you try to be different, that isn’t any different than trying to be the same. If trying to be different is just like trying to be the same, is there any individuality?
I’ve long had an arm-chair interest in Buddhism and Hinduism and similar eastern religions and philosophies. But for a long time I was vexed by the idea that “successful” practice of such religions was (in simple terms) to have the self swallowed up and become one with the universe, all of that individuality lost in the attainment of enlightenment. This is very similar to the scripture mentioned by Carrie Ann, from somewhere in the New Testament, “He who seeketh his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life, for My sake, shall find it.”
It’s been difficult for me to accept the loss of “me.” I grew up hearing that unique is good, that uniqueness has worth; uniqueness and individuality get stressed to the point that one can base all of their self-worth on individuality. Those differences, that stuff that makes me me, it’s mine, it’s me, but does it really matter? Our worth doesn’t come from our individuality. Our worth doesn’t come from anywhere, it just Is. If that wasn’t the case, I’d still be in a terrible state after encountering people I found to be better versions of myself; similar looks, interests and attitudes, but more motivated, smarter, kinder, more fit, etc. etc. Better than me at being me. Scary.
For some time now, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that individuality doesn’t matter, that it is a red herring in the search for happiness or salvation or whatever. To me, much of Mormonism works to strip away individuality. We have the same baptism, we dress the same (well the boys dress the same. You don’t have to step back very far before the general authorities turn into attack of the clones. Girls, lucky ducks, have a lot more leeway.) And the temple, I’ve often thought, looking around at others in the temple, that the temple is the great equalizer, everyone exalted to the same level, everyone the same.
But religion is about the only thing I have in common with most of the members of my ward. Just a couple of days ago VL was remarking that beyond religion, she just doesn’t have much in common with the other ladies at church, just isn’t interested in the conversations, the social events. I’m the same way. We gravitate to people like us, people who like the similar things and so have experienced similar things and most of those people usually are not members of the church. Be the same, be different, I don’t know that it matters. Just Be.