We love and hate labels. Well, we love them on the items we buy, but hate them when they are applied to us. At least we hate it when other people label us, but are only too keen to label ourselves.
Well let’s have a look at the subject.
Apple is a good place to start. We do love our I phones (or hate them). Personally, I like them, they just work well and seem to be pretty robust. There’s something about having an I phone too, a lifestyle statement, after all lots of high profile people use them and we like to feel associated with them don’t we? Is that another label? Apple also stand for forward thinking and innovation. Even if they are not anymore…
Many of us love to buy clothes with brands on them, Calvin Klein, Adidas, Nike or Superdry for instance. Even if they are not that Superdry at all. When my son was a teenager, he had to have a Superdry coat. We had to replace it twice, once because he got drenched and the other time because the zip broke within a couple of months. Lot of peer pressure there I reckon.
Many of the stars and celebrities that we admire wear certain clothes and many of us then wish to wear similar items, so we can be associated with them.
I remember as a teenager having to wear knee high black boots and sport a mullet so I could look like Bono. To me, as a teenager, he was the most important person on Earth!
And then as we grow older, our toys get bigger, we get into cars and/or motorcycles. I have always almost exclusively bought Honda motorcycles. Although that became habit more than any brand loyalty, although I like the fact that they virtually never break down! But so many people I know are fiercely loyal to their chosen brand. Especially if it’s a designer brand such as Ducati or MV Augusta.
My business coach will only have a Mercedes on his driveway.
It’s the same with all the furnishings and gadgets in our homes, and don’t even think about keeping up with the Jones’s.
Now that’s pack mentality. A need to be part of the herd. Sometimes one herd is not enough either, we join several. There’s the work community, many employers know that a happy workforce works harder and provides a healthy workplace social structure. There are sporting communities, both for playing and watching. Car owners clubs, stamp collecting clubs, metal detecting clubs, if you can think of an interest, there will be a club for it. We like to spend time with likeminded people. These clubs will have clothing with brands and labels, so we can make public our associations.
We say, ‘Oh yes I’m a member of the Rugby Club, we meet on Tuesdays and I go and play badminton an Fridays and I am learning to play the piano on a Wednesday and then at the weekend I like to go and dress up with the local historical re-enactment society and…’
We label ourselves in so many ways. Enthusiastically.
But if anyone else gives us a label, we tend to get very upset by it. Even if it might be true. Even if at a later time we might agree. Problem is we tend to label other people derogatorily. When we are trying to put them down for whatever reason.
So why have I gone to some lengths to set out this scene? I have been asking questions as to exactly who, or what I am a lot of the last few years. Ever since I stopped drinking and cleared my mind of the self-induced fog that modern life seems to think is necessary. Even though I found a lot of internal peace, the question of who I was and what was my purpose was became worth consideration. Every time I think I might have worked it out, something happens to change that opinion.
At the end of the View Over the Wall I ran through various different philosophies and religions and identified sections of them that I identified with, but none of them fitted perfectly. I said the closest I could get might be Pagan.
After the ‘Space to Emerge’ retreat I attended with my wife last year I became really comfortable with the word ‘Pagan’ and I have been branding my self ‘Countryman and Modern Day Pagan’ for the last year. Once again, I’ve moved on and Pagan no longer totally fits. I’ve always had a fair amount of discipline when it comes to exercise, routines, planning and targets. With Pagan, there is, I feel, a lot of free spirit there and maybe a little irresponsibility too, but I stand by the connection ‘thing’.
However, having to change the way I exercise because my knees are not good, I started exercising with a sword, OK, initially it was a broom handle, but its been really effective. The Qigong (Chi gong) I had been doing was brilliant, but my knees were really suffering.
The broom stick has now morphed into a replica Katana (Samurai sword) and I love it. There’s a real feeling of authenticity. If I haven’t done any damage to myself or anything else, then in six months time I will invest in a real sword.
As a result of this interest, I have been reading a lot about the samurai, their habits, beliefs and practices. There’s an awful lot about Samurai discipline that really strikes a chord with me. The discipline of exercise, or anything for that matter, is almost, if sometimes not more important that the activity itself.
That brings me back to labels. I am not a samurai, I am not totally a pagan,.. I am a musician, biker, husband and familyman and businessman to name a few.
Probably I will continue with countryman, but I am actually much happier in the city these days than I used to be.
Maybe urban countryman then.
Labels need them, hate them, want them, can’t avoid them…
It’s probably more about the emotion a label conjures than the label. And if emotion is energy in motion then… well?
Who are you? What are you?
Confused? Enjoy it.