I Am Judgmental (to a fault?)

My lone 2015 New Year’s resolution was to be more self-aware and damnit, for the first time in my life, I’ve maintained it and worked upon it for more than three weeks before abandoning the ill-conceived effort. My life is not the same as it was in 2014. It is not the same as in July or August of this year never mind.  This once-thought-negligible goal is now the most successful thing I’ve followed through on, outside of my pursuits in higher education, and formerly thriving business. It’s not as though any hard work went into the continuity of this goal, rather it’s the fact that not much thought is involved in making a difference to oneself.

With that all having been said, I have considered and concluded that change does not necessarily require much effort, it does not require much physical strength or mental devotion. Not everyone can define change, in its many forms, despite the word being such a common theme in the mundane. Shall we say, “Change is difference?” Is that fair? Does the simplicity of it strike a chord? Does it resonate deeply, or is it dissonant with all that you stand for? If change is difference, then according to the principle of converse consistency, difference is change.

I am a teacher, as such, I have been taught to instruct according to the many different ways that students (children and adults, alike) can learn. Such is the premise of the fantastic educational theory of Multiple Intelligences, by Howard Gardner.

Fact: people spanning the globe are capable of learning.
Fact: people around the world can teach.
Fact: because everyone is different, on even the most minute of scales—brain-composition and life experiences, for example; they learn differently. To this day, I benefit from the musical, natural, intrapersonal, and linguistic instructional methods, compared to my sisters who are mainly interpersonal and kinesthetic learners, while my mother is strictly spatial, and father is a linguistic and logical learner. Nature vs nurture is a debate-made-moot, as both sides contribute to the methods of information absorption for my siblings and I, almost all of which are different from our parents, yet are equally impacted by the societal focuses of education. 

Case study: Standing at the cash register of your local coffee shop, you slap a $5 bill on the counter as payment for your morning fix and patiently await [what should realistically be around 3 bucks in] change. 

Now, there’s that word, “change.” When you await and receive money back, simple math is performed—something called subtraction. You take the cash given and take away the price charged, receiving, in return, the change. In math terms and in the standard visualization of this equation, you get something like:

             Money given                    B
          – Price charged      (minus)  A
          = Change              = Difference

If you still follow, change requires but the slightest of differences in origin and terminal. Difference can be a fraction of a number so miniscule that it is often negligible and easily overlooked.

Putting the math aside, let's jump to the very bad 1999 film, Any Given Sunday, featuring a solid cast (Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Jim Brown, etc.). Here we go with the aforementioned judgment—it is a movie about football (many of which, I love) but is the equivalent of a shock-jock radio DJ. Take a whole lot of energy, some drama from a party, and add in some surprising wisdom, capitulating in an altogether clichéd, unsurprising underdog triumph or near victory. The one major redeeming feature of this featured presentation is the very well written and emotionally charged monologue by Al Pacino’s coach-of-a-character, Tony D’Amato, in which he proclaims: 

“[…] one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches, that’s gonna make the f****** difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying! I’ll tell you this, in any fight it’s the guy whose willing to die whose gonna win that inch. And I know, if I’m gonna have life anymore it’s because I’m still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that’s what living is, the six inches in front of your face.”
Add in the gruff rasp of the self-aware Pacino-portrayed and you get the greatest pump up speech of all time, about nothing more than a matter of inches. It’s clearly perceptible, clearly there but so nearly not that we often sit back, rest on our laurels and wait for those six inches to shrink, bringing the end to us. 

Difference is change, yes—it is fight or flop. You can make it or let it happen. Differences can be made to be proactive or reactive, they can be made for benefit or detriment. Differences are the changes between people or places or things that are all cut from the same cloth. Differences can be skin deep or can be buried deep within self-created shields, hidden from all others. This six-foot-tall, Caucasian, glasses-wearing, introverted, Jewish, teacher of a man is all that and more. I am unique in entirety, yet am composed of bits and pieces shared with millions of other people. 

As a final case study supporting the simplicity of the definition of “Difference” being “change,” let us listen to Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” It is brilliantly written, one of the lyrical masterpieces of modern music, with a beautiful western-inspired instrumental and evocative, smooth male vocals.

Next, take the same lyrics change the vocals to a male falsetto, soften the country-esque intonation of the instrumental, and you have James Vincent McMorrow’s rendition.

Swap the male vocals for a female, add in a heavy bass, rock it up, and you have Wolf Alice’s live performance of the same song for Spotify.

Change the female vocalist, throw in some synth, add a heavy kickdrum, play it in a club in Ibiza or poolside in Vegas, in 2013, and you have Parra For Cuva’s rendition. 

Each version of the same song has its merit and has seen its own amount of success, all of which stem from Chris Isaak’s songwriting and lyricism. As the song goes, “I never dreamed that I’d love somebody like you.”

But think about it, what makes “somebody like you?” Is it the differences? Or the changes in and from the cookie cutter personalities? The answer is a resolute and absolute: Yes.