People think that you are something. Someone. Sometimes it fits with who you want them to think you are. Other times it becomes a pressure, a standard that you try to live up to. For some, that something is that thing that you will always be to them, no matter how much time passes by. They’ve made up their mind, that’s who you are, and you are not allowed to deviate from who they think you are, forever. You are frozen in that you.
When they realize that you are no longer that person who they want you to be, who they thought you were, they will likely be disappointed. They will say that you changed. They will never say that they had the wrong you in their mind. No. You changed. What happened to you? I like the other version. It doesn’t matter how well they knew you or how much time you spent together. They know that they know and they will tell you that you are wrong.
Then you will question who you were and who you are. You will wonder why these people thought of you in ways that you never thought of yourself. You will wonder if the you they have in their heads is the you that you wanted them to think you were back then.
Did I change? Did I never show people who I really was? Are they right? Are they wrong? Am I wrong?
In the end, you will swear that you know who you are. You will say that you don’t care what others think because you’re in control, at all times. I know who I am. I know what I like. I know what I want.
And then someone will come along and you will try to present the best of you while questioning who you are the whole time.
Doing laps in the pool. Notice an older Asian woman entering my lane. Annoyed because she’ll slow me down. But she doesn’t swim. She does leg exercises at the shallow end. Annoyed because then she should be in the slow lane.
I keep doing my laps. She finally starts swimming. She’s faster than I anticipated. But she doesn’t swim to the end, only 3/4. Then she swims back doing a backstroke, holding herself along the side of the pool. We stay in our own lanes.
I finish my laps.
"I am so grateful to you because I am afraid to swim on that side," she says. "And you just stayed there. Thank you." She tells me she learned how to swim this year at the age of 75 after knee problems. She refuses medication and surgery. She ran and played tennis all her life. Doesn’t even take vitamins: "I find the sun and get vitamin D."
She’s Chinese from the Philippines who’s never been to China.
"You are very pleasant," she says, looking right into my eyes with the kindest and warmest eyes I’ve ever seen. "You are just wonderful. Stay that way."
Her name is Lolita.
And hopefully I’ll see her again.
Our exchange meant a lot.
Especially this week.
"I’m a Father" featuring DaoYi Chow of Public School, CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year. Part of a video series celebrating the relationship between fathers and their children. A WANP Productions. Produced by me.
Diversity is a hot topic these days. The tech industry is the latest target. For a long time it was the advertising industry under the diversity gun. I’m not sure what’s been done about it. I know there are awards that are given to non-white people in advertising to celebrate the fact that there are non-white people in advertising. It was an issue for a bit. Think Sharpton said something. Ivy League schools was an issue too recently, right? I don’t remember.
There’s a new issue every day. I can’t focus, I can’t keep up. I’m getting older. My attention span is precious. And the latest hashtag about something racist/sexist/classist/homophobic gets my head spinning. It does fascinate me. Our behavior in the hyper-connected world of social media. How fast things spread. With very little context. If you read something on Twitter, Tweet something.
Oh of course I’ll follow it. It’s entertaining. But I also realize how limiting it is. it’s whatever is the opposite of “preaching to the choir” is. We choose who we follow, we choose what shows, movies, and docs to watch when we want, we choose the soundbites, articles, and quotes to share on social media which are then re-shared by those who choose to follow us. So it’s easy to think that “everybody” feels a certain way or that “everybody” said something.
"Big Fun In the Big Town" - Dutch doc on Hip Hop // 1986 // Featuring Doug E. Fresh, Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J, Run DMC, Russell Simmons, Schooly D
What’s your worth? Your personal value. If you know it, how’d you measure it? Did you think about it in terms of your possessions, the money you make, the money you have, the money you will make? And how much of your personal valuations was predicated on how others view you. Or rather, how you view your value to others?
How much are my words worth to you? Valuation is a popular word these days. It seeped out of Wall Street and into our everyday vernacular. How do we value what something is worth? How do we value someone else? It seems wrong doesn’t it? From an early age we’re taught to treat everyone equally. Which no one ever does.
What do you do for a living? Oh…I should talk to you about this idea. How many people do we keep around in our lives just because we value what they can do and give to us? It could be a job title, a place where they work, if they own a car, the type of car, maybe they throw great parties, maybe they can get you in, or they own an awesome summer house, some of you may know people who fly people to their summer houses for awesome parties.
Been thinking about worth a lot lately. Last few months actually. And I first started thinking about it in terms of money. Like why do I charge what I charge for my services and why do they pay me what they pay me for my services and when we can’t agree on that price who is wrong and who is right? Or why do we decide to tip the way we do when it comes to the service we receive? How come we go to certain places and haggle with the price and at other places we accept it? How do we decide if something is overpriced? We’re always evaluating the value of things, places, and people. We do it so much, we’re not even aware of it. We decide if someone or something is worth or not worth our time. Which in my mind is the most important thing. Time.
And I wish I had more time to write everything I wanted. Because everyday I think about what I want to write. Or I tell someone what I’ve been thinking about writing about. But that perfect moment to write, that exists in my head, never comes. I get sucked into a streaming vortex.
So now I’m writing this with the hopes that I will be motivated to write more about how we value things. For a moment I thought valuating was a word. It should be.
Wrote this. Produced this. Made a cameo in this. But most importantly got to make this with my friends. #Chazebralope
— "If The 1% Stifle’s New York’s Creative Talent, I’m Out of Here" by David Byrne, The Guardian, 10.07.13