It may just be our society’s biggest irony that we crave that which does not make us happy: certainty and predictability. Have you ever asked yourself why we tend to find a candle more romantic than a light bulb? A light bulb is obviously more reliable and more predictable! What does a candle have that a light bulb doesn’t? It flickers! It embeds randomness, unpredictability, and in that sense we see it as closer to human nature! We subconsciously are attracted to anything that is as we are: imperfect and fragile! Yet we consciously understand the taming of our environment as the elimination of anything uncertain. When are we going to learn to embrace uncertainty? When are we going to reconcile our subconscious and conscious mind?
I remember my grandmother’s old house in Eastern Europe. The fence poles weren’t all equal. Because post World War II Europe, particularly Eastern Europe was dealing with severe material shortages, people improvised. Uniformity wasn’t a strong trait in those parts of the world to say the least, just like I am sure it isn’t in the third and developing worlds now.
I remember distinctly that the lack of uniformity in my grandmother’s house fence made me feel good. First of all, it released the expectations for perfection. The fence wasn’t perfect, which meant it was “ok” that I should be imperfect. Second and more importantly, it forced my mind to differentiate, to make distinctions, to compare and contrast. I am now convinced that being surrounded by imperfection as a child stimulated the intuition that underlies my creativity. It forever altered my identity and shaped who I am today.
I have also come to believe that it is at this level of subtlety that a human being is formed! It is these subconscious cues in our environment that trigger our humanity more so than the conscious development processes we undertake as society members.
When I look at the developed world today, I see uniformity, predictability and security. I also see diminishing romance. How can a highly developed society maintain its humanity, how can it allow for constructive imperfection to permeate its bullet-proof standards is a question that has been with me constantly over the past two decades.