What Kind of Dining Set Defines Me as a Person?

The unknown narrator, or is he Tyler Durden, ponders an IKEA catalog, wondering what his stuff says about him. But it’s not just stuff, it’s attitude about/identification with things and how what we wear, listen to, read and watch comes to represent us in the world.

Programmed from near birth, we come to view externals as part of ourselves and believe that they lift us or damn us according to society’s ranking of them and hence us.

Our musical tastes, for example, allow the majority to rule us. We are cool or not so much depending on our earworm preferences. Liking Nickelback and Taylor Swift earns scorn while pretending to get the deep meaning of Tool rates high social marks.

I like Nickelback by the way. Just plain old pop/rock and occasional boy band ballad-e-ness with a bit of growl. Pretentious? Perhaps. Lyrically challenged? Most definitely. Fun? In my opinion, yes.

I listen to Tool as well though I prefer Perfect Circle. It’s also pretentious, but it’s angsty in a discomforting way that allows people to pretend it’s more meaningful than Daughtry and therefore elevates the listener to some level the masses just “wouldn’t understand”. Forgetting all the while that music is poetry and poetry’s meaning is subjective and totally relative.

What kind of music defines me as a person?

And what does it say about me that I need external definition?

Yesterday was “cheer up, Keanu day”. Generated by a viral paparazzi shot of the actor morosely munching a sandwich on a park bench in a decidedly homeless guy sort of way, people with a soft spot of maligned movie stars decided to dedicate a day – and a Facebook page – to share their fond memories of his movies, music and their actual encounters with Reeves.

It reminded me of a memorial service.

For a man who’s not dead in case anyone missed that. Although maybe in a world obsessed with whatever one has done lately, a career not in full throttle is akin to a death of sorts. Even middle-aged men are put to pasture in Hollywood, however, but if I had Reeves resources, I doubt that I would be pushing myself very hard either.

Oh, wait. I am not pushing myself. Nevermind

What kind of movies define me as a person?

Can I be defined by the fact that I sometimes watch films just because the actors are pleasantly attractive? Or that I am sufficiently imaginative to be able to immerse myself in a story regardless of the quality of the acting and the CGI?

The latter perhaps is the more admirable quality but the former is nothing to hang one’s head shamefully over.

My fondness for Virgo men aside, I like Reeves the actor. I never have difficulty believing he is his character in a way that “better” actors like Tom Hanks, for instance, can never not be “Tom Hanks” regardless of the film.

Because I prefer to not wear make up, live in my yoga togs and forsake underwear, am I bohemian? Does being a yoga teacher/blogger make me trendy or edgy? Or does the fact that I’ve blogged for money blogs rob me of “cool” cred?

I’ve viewed people from way atop the bridge of my nose, but that vantage point didn’t put me above anyone as much as it revealed my own pettiness and superficiality.

What defines you as a person? Music? Movies? A dining set?

I’m still trying to find my true self. Excavate her, really.

But in the meantime, I like Nickelback and Keanu Reeves’ movies and buying my yoga duds at Sears.

4 responses to “What Kind of Dining Set Defines Me as a Person?

  1. hi

    I love your way of writting very much, seems that we have a lot in common. I’m excavating myself as well.
    Sometimes , I think people believe I’m wierd or even crazy, as I never feel ashamed to say that I love this movie or that song even it has no meaning but it make me happy or at least satisfied.
    Also, I keep so many old things that means nothing except for me and this also make people make bad comments or even not nice at all.
    But I never pay attention to any of these.

  2. i love the way you’re articulated this – been on my mind in varying contexts for the past few months, especially with the passing of another birthday. one fairly liberating aspect of aging, at least for me, has been letting go of embarassment…

    i am unafraid to tell people that one of my favorite songs is “Precioius and Few” by the one-hit-wonder band Climax, that my favorite movie is “Airplane” despite the fact that it is obnoxious and devoid of meaning or substance, and i am quite happy to furnish my home with stuff from IKEA – not because it is trendy, but because it is plain, functional and cheap.

    My refrigerator is STILL covered with goofy stuff and magnets, and random bits of “Amana Art” that my children produced over a decade ago. It also doesn’t phase me in the least that there is an 8″ long plastic sea monkey, dangling upside down from the light fixture over my dining table – simply because it makes me smile every damn time i see it.

    Sure, i want things to be “nice”, and i try to keep an open mind regarding books, movies, music and art – but not being embarassed, or even remotely self-conscious, about the things that bring me joy? i think i’m just getting comfortable with myself. Lots of excavations to go, but at least i won’t get all crampy as i settle in to dig…

    • This whole thought train began with a snarky status update concerning people who like Nickelback that was followed up with a radio dj and his listeners mocking someone who texted in a request for one of their songs.

      In Canada, it is a point of pride to dismiss and/or dislike anything that catches on in the States. It’s also generally acknowledged around Alberta that we’d rather be represented as a people by anyone other than Chad Kroger. However, I still like their music. Because, I just do. I like “higher” brow and much cheesier stuff too. And this doesn’t make mean I am hopelessly out of the cool loop. As I began to tell my students about mid-way through my career,

      “I am above cool.”

      I meant it as a joke then, but it holds quite a bit of truth for me now. I really don’t have the time or inclination to worry about what other people think of my likes and dislikes in just about any arena you care to name.

      And really, what’s the point of getting older (and possibly wiser) if I have to worry about being “teased” about the fact that The Carpenters, Abba and Manilow are all on my iPod? Them and a couple hundred others who span about four decades worth of music from rock to pop to country to metal to rap to Broadway musical – to name a few. There is something sad about basing your interests on opinion polls and ordering your life by committee.

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