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“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Oscar Wilde

We all go through a phase where every second song on the radio seems to be sung especially for us. ‘It’s like it was written for me,’ we’ve cooed, while piously singing along, creating prophets out of boybands and holy grail out of CD sleeves. The last time I found myself a disciple of this religious order I was eighteen. Fresh out of high school, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and very much a babe in the woods; I was tacitly informed by the best-friend-of-the-day that the he-of-the-day had been haranguing the-girl-about-town for some attention. ‘C-r-a-ck,’ went my heart, and my carefully constructed reality thundered to the floor.

For months I felt as though the world had been cruelly tugged from beneath my feet. As it turned out it was only an illusion I was robbed of. Back then, it was not the heartbreak I felt most acutely, though I assure you, I felt slighted. I was overcome though, by disappointment. It was not disappointment over a white dress and dashing groom that I felt either. In my mind, that wretched place all my troubles are born, I had built this particular he to be something of an esteemed personage. ‘He’s so perfectly himself,’ I would gush to all friends, relatives, bit acquaintances and just about anyone else I encountered with an ear for a praise song. I was quite sure I was in love with him, perhaps I was, but what I felt for him back then was based on him fitting some highly contrived bill. I’m not sure exactly which songs were so empathetic to my abject disappointment and it’s been a long time since he’s redeemed himself enough in my esteem to be one of my closest friends.

Thinking back, I’m grateful to have had my illusions snapped by reality. Like acne, it’s awkward to negotiate, visually jarring but essential to growing up. While reaching out for empathy in music, singing along at the top of my voice, I grew up, I learned to find a sense of self away from the admiration and affection I have for others. And my taste in music, well, I think it’s evolved.

But something unnerving’s happened.

I picked a thriller off my sister’s bookshelf a few days ago and while racing through the pages I found a near accurate portrayal of conversations I have with my friend Perry, like Perry Mason only smarter, younger and better looking. It was in fact an eerie portrayal not so much of me, which would be altogether too disconcerting but rather of Perry’s distinctive way of speaking; right up to his affinity for the word ‘bang’. A couple of days later, watching some odd Hugh Grant film I had a similar experience. This time Hugh Grant’s character reminded me of another friend, complete with his flair for the dramatic. I’m inclined to coo to these friends, ‘It’s like it was written about you.’ But I’m no longer eighteen. I have the three grey hairs, bad back and rapidly deteriorating eyesight to prove it. I like to think I’ve lost some claim to the silliness that previously predisposed me to seek out echoes of my own experiences in others. Or perhaps not- I do still own an embarrassing collection of Westlife albums…?

Could it be though, that we are more alike than we think and our idiosyncrasies are not at all that unique?

8 replies on ““Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Oscar Wilde”

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>@Nooj: haha, therein lies the proof! 🙂 I probably did get the idea from Jung though. Younger, nerdier Saaleha would often borrow books on psychology from the local library.

>A line from a goo goo dolls song that twists my heart:

"And don't it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are "

Saaleha re:shared consciousness, Jung said it first 😛

A quest for uniqueness is futile. And not very noble either. I would rather venture into the even more murky territory of trying to just be good.

>Azra dear,

The point I'm trying to make here corroborates yours, and does not oppose it: The samenesss of our experiences seeks to unite.

>Miss Kay – I think we actively 'seek out echoes of my our experiences in others'..it stems from our need to belong, our own sense of society and community. The need to relate and identify…that sense of camaraderie with humankind, is innate in all of us, whether it manifests itself consciously or unconsciously. So in essence, no man is an island…even if he wanted to be. Because he'd still be looking to connect with some elements, human or not, whether he consciously wanted to or not 🙂

>Saaleha,

Do you remember, a while back, after you posted excerpts from your teenage journal, your blog was inundated with comments from people who felt it could easily have been their journal your published. I think there's some merit to your Borgan idea, except I think the pool is within us all.

No gas oven in homage to Sylvia? *tsk tsk* 😉

>I remember reading Sylvia Plath's journal and thinking that it could easily have been pages out of one of my own at the time. To reassure, we do not have a gas oven in our kitchen.

Despite our best efforts, none of our sins are original:)

I used to think of humankind as drawing inspiration and direction from a huge shared subconscious; all of us pulling from an invisible something that floated somewhere above our heads.
Sounds a bit like the Borg now that I think about it.

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