A few chapters ago you may recall to mind in the blog entitled Isolation, the topic of my working life’s symmetry; how my office now is a mirrored reflection of where it all started. For this next chapter in Life’s Rich Tapestry, we gravitate from our present situation of Isolation, Retreat, Social Distancing and Yoga flailings, to examine historical past events. So far back into the dim and distant past, that there will be some readers who will wish to double-check the photographic evidence of my personage, whilst counting upon their fingers (and toes, and using someone else’s fingers and toes too), quite possibly to conclude, that Dorian Gray’s painting must surely be lurking furtively somewhere in my attic. Life might have dealt me with a racing-snake figure and fine chiselled features or, as in my own opinion when confronted by harsh reality and daylight’s full glare, it’s all about the make-up, dharling! The whole world is a stage, don’t you know…and if one stares too long into the mirror, all that will be seen and reflected back is death at work! Isn’t that a cheery thought to loiter with intent on?
Today, our anecdotal narrative begins during the month of August, in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and sixty-four in the cathedral city of Canterbury, which nestles on the River Stour among the County of Kent’s orchards, in the South East of England. Well, technically nine months earlier, about which the well-known song, Oh What A Night, is written. Bob Gaudio and his wife Judy Parker wrote the song made famous by The Four Seasons, released on their 1975 album, ‘Who Loves You’. Un liaison romantique occurred during ‘late December, back in ‘63’, whereupon a couple, who, nine months later, had the unmitigated joy and delight, of spawning this blog’s author.
August 1964, in the Kent & Canterbury Hospital Maternity Ward, a little baby wrenched from the comparative safety of the womb of security, took its first gasp of air into a world of pastel shades. A tie-dyed clothed, guitar-totin’, weed-smokin’, free-lovin’, post-war boomin’, society. And so, with that first gasp, came the first label, or tag, or information notification, lest this baby should inadvertently be mislaid, or swapped at birth, or for whatever reason labels are affixed to the wrist or ankle of newborn children.
For historical perspective and to show that I originate from a time before the mainstream use of plastic, for the assembled jury, I exhibit this photograph, which displays said label as used on the day in question.
I would like at this juncture to draw to your attention, the rectified mistake thereon and assure you that no gender reassignment has subsequently occurred during my lifetime, although many might say it explains a lot and in fact sheds light on possible reasons as to why I am the way I am. I, however, could not possibly say!
From our very beginning, we are labelled. Assumptions are made based on the evidence given, whether gleaned or freely spoken. We as a race, form ourselves into hierarchical structures of political, financial or socio-demographic standing. Family, work or life orientated, we are layered. We are instructed, by those who govern our upbringing and advancement into society, how we should behave towards God, to each other, encompassing our wider social or professional connections and to ourselves.
If you have read Carry On Regardless’ previous blogs, you will hopefully have already built a picture for yourself of who I am, based on the stories of my life and the lives I mention, of those around me. A picture I optimistically have painted through the medium of words and photos, to give you a colourful glimpse into our existence and life. Last week was the turn of our children to feature in the spotlight of social thoughtfulness, with part of that blog relating to our eldest child, Harriet. Here is a recent photograph of her at the Cannes Film Festival, France, posing for the camera, wearing attire prerequisite for such an event.
In simply seeing this photograph, conjectures will be made concerning her as a person. By the way she is dressed or looks, she will be labelled and pigeonholed as to actually, literally, who she is. Her character and disposition will have been decided upon without her even having opened her mouth……….and it is also in this moment we, as humans, make an irrational choice on whether we will like, or dislike her.
It is the same for us all. Everyone we meet, we are somehow preconditioned to appraise and label. Before we have had the chance to fully get to know someone, we will so easily jump to a preconceived and judgemental decision, in advance of being able to come to a well-balanced one.
Is this simply an ingrained biological throwback to a time when, in meeting a stranger, we would be instinctively warned of impending danger and be timely advised to proceed with caution? In modern society, is this an unwarranted and unneeded base nature? Have we not evolved far enough from our prehistoric ancestors, to give people a chance, before extrapolating biased conclusions?
We’ve all had that ‘society moment’ where we are either being introduced or are introducing ourselves to another person or group and it is in this moment that decisions are formed in the minds of others, as to our position within society’s psychological, physiological, financial or social strata.
When you look in the mirror of your own life, what do you see reflected back?
How would you describe what you do or who you are, without mentioning your job title? I would love to hear from you, so feel free to email or leave me a message in the comments…
Personally, my answer is that I help people through one of life’s hardest grieving processes, of losing a loved one.
Only by understanding the importance of what we do in and with our life, far more than what we are called or labelled, will we then fully appreciate our gifts and talents and see each other for who we really are. Ditch the label my friends and….
Carry on regardless.
2 thoughts on “Being Labelled”
Oh Daniel only you could get the serious message across with such gentle humour (Harriet looks stunning btw). I think I am at an age when what has gone by in my life is more pleasing than not. Had a ball and spent almost 54 years married to my best buddy. Travelled a lot and lived abroad, yet always look forward to coming home. To safety and serenity in our lovely garden that makes lockdown less scary and shows us we are so blessed. Great family and friends sustain and actually form our characters In subtle and interesting ways. Keep on thinking and being the guiding hand for those who grieve and are lost in the depths of despair, and anger, and longing for a loved one.
Thank you Barbara. Having met your ‘best buddy’ I can fully understand! There is so much to be grateful for in this life that we’re given. Keep laughing my friend..x