Sunday, December 14, 2008


There are a lot of strange things out there and many of us don't necessarily like 'strange'. We like the things we're comfortable with, the things to which we have become accustomed. Familiarity provides a certain degree of comfort that allows us to relax. It has been my experience that I am most creative when I am relaxed, although I have heard from others that they are very productive when experiencing a high level of pressure.
Familiarity breeds comfort. We are very comfortable, for example, with the fruits and vegetables we know from when we were growing up. But there are many, MANY fruits and vegetables that are not commonly seen in the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps not better or worse, simply different. Maybe not to our taste because they are so. . . unfamiliar.

But imagine if you had never seen a horse and saw one for the first time. Would it be bizarre and ugly to your eye? What's with those long, skinny legs and that long face? What's that all about? Circumstances being what they are, we think they're quite handsome, even elegant.
But how much of that has been trained into us from childhood? Now imagine you are introduced to a creature you've never seen before, perhaps a creature like this drawing.

Boy, you wouldn't want to run into that while you were out there snorkeling, huh? Well, actually, it's not just a drawing. No, it's not fake at all, it's a frilled shark and I'd never seen one until the other day. Well, truthfully, I haven't SEEN one at all, I've seen a photograph of one and frankly, that was enough. But, why? What if you actually ran into this fellow in real life? How would you feel about that? Looks scary, like it could kill you, doesn't it?

Guess what? Horses are dangerous. They kill people all the time. People get thrown, trampled, crushed against a stall, bitten, kicked, you name it. Yes, our elegant, regal-appearing friends that we've grown up with and known all our lives can kill us too.

The most the frilled shark will do is scare you to death, and honestly that's enough. So, as hard as it might be to believe, the things that you find comfort in are not the same things that others are familiar with at all. The images we bring to mind in a word association may be completely wrong outside our neighborhood.

For example, when someone says 'octopus' you may conjure up the eight legged dude with the suction cups and the ink spray. And if they're small enough, some of us eat them. But did you know they are a cephalopod which is a kind of mollusk (you know, like a clam)? A cephalopod is a creature whose feet are attached to it's head. I've known some politicians who have that characteristic. They (the octopus, I mean, not the politicians) have no bones, but they do have a beak, excellent eyes and a VERY well developed brain. Can you change colors to match your background? A lot of women try to do that by buying sixty pairs of shoes. They also have three hearts and blue blood, and that proves they are not from Vulcan. When they put those suckers on you, they're tasting you and if you rip their arm off, they can grow it back. That would be a pretty handy trick where I grew up.

And they don't all look like the image you may have of an 'octopus'. This guy to the left here is a blanket octopus. Not necessarily something you grew up drawing in your coloring books, huh?

That doesn't make it weird or bizarre, it is merely unfamiliar - to us. They probably like they way they look to one another, after all, they're still around. So, what's the moral of this story? We can't be quick to decide the qualities of some entity based on the set of rules we had growing up. We must wait until they prove their own qualifications. Just as we must prove our own.

1 comment:

Dave said...

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who reads Lio!