There is within each one of us, a pining, and sometimes, even an obsession for originality. We don’t like it when our things are copied, or when we see things being copied. What we prize is creativity, and we see this evidenced in various ways.
There was an article in the paper sometime back that featured ways in which couples getting married strive for originality in their wedding photos. Lavish ones even brought their photographer to idyllic locations like Paris for the photo shoot. One couple were so "original" by having their photo taken in a hotel bathtub, with the both of them shoulder deep in a foam covered tub! Apparently this was so "memorable" that their friends and relatives were still talking about it years later. Youth are know to establish their original identity through their dressing and adornments. In the realm of the arts, originality in writings and composed music is far more respectable as an art than to do ‘cover’ versions.
Where is the basis of this need and this yearning?
It is deeply rooted in our humanity, to want to be remembered and not forgotten. I believe that our reason for wanting to put our stamp on the world, be it in the form of wedding photos, music, writing or dressing, ideas, inventions or for the esoteric, our thinking, is so that somehow, we become ‘preserved’. We fear being forgotten, and we are terrified of being seen as an ‘also-ran’. Even Olympic medal winners are loathe to have their records beaten because they want to be remembered at least for a long time, if not, forever.
Why is this so? I believe that every one of us are somewhat plagued with an insecurity that makes us want to preserve ourselves. It’s part of the original sin in each of us. It has at its deepest roots, our failure to believe that we are loved deeply by God, and not for anything that we can do, but for our very being. If we know that we are truly and deeply loved by God, the one who is Eternal, whose love for us is Eternal, then we will not need to put our mark on anything that ‘preserves’ us. We will live in a new freedom without fear of being an unknown, because we are never unknown by God.
Does this mean that we should not be creative, or ‘original’ in our work? Certainly not. It is also part of our godly nature (remember that we are made in the image of God) to participate in his creative-ness. What we need to do is to purify our motives and be conscious of why we are doing what we are doing. When it is out of vanity, for the ego, or for a self-centered act of preservation, we could be saying that we don’t believe that God loves us, and that we have to love ourselves more. But if it is an act of an extension of our God-given created-ness in us, we know that it is alright if our work is not given any human recognition. And the peace that we experience despite our non-recognition helps us not be frustrated, hungry and needy.
But at our core, we encounter an admixture of both drives, don't we. I know I do. While we know that we are loved unreservedly, there will be moments of human weakness and insecurity that finds us wanting more. But I believe the more we learn to encounter the God of love and mercy, the more we will be re-minded, re-modeled, given a new mind to love not just God, but our deepest and yes, flawed but still lovable selves, and from there, begin to love others who are just as 'also-ran' as we are.