I’ve recently been on a bit of a thought train surrounding that notion of ‘Character’. Like when a father tells his son about baseball and how it builds character. That’s the kind of “character” I’m talking about.
Character isn’t grit, it’s not hard work or athletic ability. It’s the quirks that make New York what it is, it’s what makes Portland feel like Portland. Character is what Micheal Jackson had, what David Bowie had. A toucan has character, a sunfish has character. In many ways, this “character” is similar to quirk. It’s a certain depth in a person, a presence of thought, culture or provocation of interest.
I feel kind of the same way that Phaedrus in “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was talking about quality, how this certain thing is throughout all of life and is really at the heart of everything.
What’s the different between Great Falls, Montana and San Francisco? Sure there’s a fuckton more people in San Francisco, but that’s not why San Francisco is San Francisco and not why Great Falls is Great Falls. The difference is the sum of all the cities’ quirks, the diversity, the notability and interest.
And we should get away from this notion that character is something acquired by way of sports or work. I’ll concede that kids playing sports contributes to the character of suburbia, but it doesn’t give kids character. Character is acquired by way of that kid choosing to be different, interesting, atypical and to provoke a greater culture in everything around him. A person who enters a room and changes it because he/she isn’t willing to change for the room… that is a person with character.
More character equals a more interesting world. A world full of various quirks and diverse people who we encounter and can say “holy shit that one-eyed magician who had a pet tiger and used a shoe instead of a hat to pull that rabbit out… you remember her?” instead of “remember Tony at work? With his blonde hair and his blue eyes? He likes action movies.” People can contribute so much to the world, they just need to accept that they want to be different and then be different.
Not only different but also developed. People need to be full and that requires being honest with themselves. You can’t get away with faking character, otherwise you’ll be just another fake bloke unless you’re truly a conman. A conman has character, for better of for worse. I said character makes for a more interesting world, not a nicer one necessarily.
People need to be goofier, more honest to themselves about their differences and what makes them unique in this world. We need standouts in the world, like Portland and New York or David Bowie. Hopefully, I’ve explained Character well enough, though I may have lost myself a bit along the way. The world is a bit dull in the land of nine-to-five work and commuting, character seems to be the way to spice it up.