Friday, August 17, 2007
Anonymity vs. Familiarity, Section I
Upon my return to this valley, my gym of choice was the community center. Though there are several mega-deluxe gyms close by, I wanted a place where I could grunt and sweat quietly with this city's people, strangers (including the local firemen). My workout time is important to my well-being. I do it early in the morning when I can have some quiet time to myself to sort my thoughts.
I'd felt safe in my gym at student housing in B.C., where I derived great satisfaction by out lifting the men I worked out with. Alright, they were twice my age and my same size...but still, it felt good. Most importantly, I started my day alert, strong and healthy, inside and out.
As I approached the front desk to purchase my gym pass a few mornings ago, I was surprised to recognize a neighbor working behind the counter. It was nice to catch up with her. I anxiously headed to the weight room, only I ran into a couple more people that I knew on the way there, and several more weight room as well. It was nice to connect and chat, but the quiet time that I need to myself wasn't available there. Really, I love the all of those people, I just didn't expect to see so many acquaintances.
This incident was a perfect example of a topic I've been exploring, Anonymity vs. Familiarity.
I've often thought about the idea, that living in a place where I had anonymity brought out a different side of of me. It seemed to me that living in a cosmopolitan city felt more like I was part of something bigger and greater. We were people brought together for all reasons, each just playing the same role. Together we were strong and unified. I found freedom in that. I could just be. I could be the accumulation of all of the experiences and lessons I have lived. I didn't feel like an accumulation of a lot of little pieces, just one whole, immediate being.
Returning here to Zion, my emotions switch gears as my context altered. Here, I am part of a community, a family and a tribe. To others around me I am an accumulation of associations. I have a past that I am connected to, from being a charming/raucous teenager to an art diva and much, much more. There are lots of pieces, not just one me. It's not immediate, it's attached to many ideas or perceptions of who I am.
My behaviour is altered by how I am treated by those around me, so I act differently in this environment than I did in an anonymous setting.
I don't know that one is better than another, living with strangers or with acquaintances. Both have drawbacks and perks. I'm glad that I have people around me who know the big picture of who I am and care about me. But I also crave that freedom that I was just living a few weeks ago.
So I will alter my expectations of my morning workout. That's alright, I'm lucky not to be lonely...and I do love people. I'll have to solve my need for reflection and alone time another way. It's just interesting to me that behaviour seems to be altered by different environments/relationships. Huh.