The labels don’t stick

I don’t know if it’s possible to get through life without labels. I mean, they’re everywhere, aren’t they? If we didn’t have labels how would we communicate? I guess they have their place and maybe we’re stuck with them.

When I think about labels I get a mental image of a sticky note. You know, the type your annoying colleague attaches to your monitor as if you wouldn’t see it if they just put it on your desk. The thing about sticky notes though is that they fall off.

I’m fairly sure my son has a label for me at the moment. How accurate it is, I can’t say, I haven’t discussed it with him. It won’t be the first label he’s attached to me and I’m sure, not the last either. But they don’t tend to stick. That’s not just a ‘me’ thing, labels in general don’t stick well because, like the monitor, labels need a smooth, flat surface, one that doesn’t keep moving and we all know life isn’t like that. Life never stays still. It moves and changes all the time and somewhere along the way the labels drop off.

What am I saying? Well perhaps it’s this: it doesn’t matter what label someone puts on you or how many labels you end up carrying around because in the end none of them are going to stick. You will outlast your labels. It’s only natural for people to try and ‘see us’, as if they could pin us down and fix us in place. Maybe we’d even like to do that to ourselves sometime. Did you ever start to describe yourself to someone only to get halfway through and realise you don’t quite believe the words you’re saying?

It’s not your fault or the words fault, we just aren’t that: a collection of words, a static picture, a convenient, easy to define label. We’re something else, maybe no-thing else, a sequence of actions and emotions, sensations and thoughts; a beautiful dance, a flowing ever-changing pattern. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s why as a child I loved my kaleidoscope so much. The pattern would never stay the same, it always shifted and changed but never into something ugly or unpleasing, every one was somehow just right.

This life, this living, is a vast interaction, impossible to hold or predict but never wrong because it’s never more than the perfect sum of its parts; all its parts not just the gross material ones. It is a cosmic, dynamic flow and we, shadows on the puppet screen that we are, get to play a tiny, brief part before the dance moves on and all that was us gets recreated into a new movement; another wave in the cosmic tide, another mote in the sunlight. Now, who could label that?

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