Consider your self. Your hair. The clothes you are wearing. Your fingernails and grocery list and bumper stickers. Your friends. Your foes. These are, inescapably, your uniform. They cover you. They can hide you. They are not you.
They threaten something invaluable in you. They threaten an individuality which is tenuous and inconvenient and largely fictional, but nevertheless a beautiful and consequential story.
Please tell the story of yourself. Please tell it with room enough for the other stories in this edition. And for those to come, and which once were. What I am asking you to do is in all likelihood an impossible task. I am asking you to trust me. I am asking you to trust you.
There is much going against you. You are improbable, maybe impractical. You should be a statistic, with nothing or no one to calculate you. You are a chemical mystery of animal evolution that has slouched out of the prehistoric soup and occasionally into some sort of grace.
And yet here you sit, improbably. Maybe with an improbable cup full of improbable coffee and, if you are very very fortunate, with a statistically impossible partner or friend in a numerically dubious house … you get the picture.
There is much that ties you to the others around you, makes you invisible and small and abstract. And so little that separates you. 0.01 percentage points of genetic variation and a uniform.
It is overwhelming. You are, probably, overwhelmed. You are improbably overwhelmed.
You are not unique in many of the ways you fear or hope you are. Many of the things you feel deep down in the goo of you are common and benign.
But there is something. A kernel of an inkling.
An ember that is not flamed by bombast and affectation. But nurtured with kindness and care and a hell of a lot of patience.
I am asking you to consider your uniform. This is a bit like breathing, something that will happen unconsciously with or without your active participation, so I ask you once more, consider your self. When you put on your shirt or dress or sweater vest, how do you feel? When you arrive at work? When you gaze at others in the street? Do they make you feel things about you?
They, like you, are covered in symbols, in a uniform. Symbols speak without listening. They are a deaf speaker. They are a deafening speaker. They are playing you. They are playing me. And we are almost a mess for listening.
Please tell the story of yourself. In words and actions. And listen through the symbolic noise for the improbable stories of others.