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“Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again” (Hermann Hesse).
IT MAY BE TRITE, BUT IT’S STILL TRUE: EACH OF US IS UNIQUE. Even “identical” twins are very different from one another. As Hesse points out, each of us amounts to a unique intersection of many different phenomena in the world. Our individual configuration of traits will have happened “only once in this way and never again.”
Most of us accept our uniqueness, I suppose. Strictly speaking, we have no choice but to accept it: it is what it is and there is not much we can do about it, no matter how we try to conform to others. But the challenge is to embrace our uniqueness enthusiastically and appreciate it gratefully. Our individuality means there is good work we can do that no one else can do in quite the same way.
But if we appreciate our own uniqueness, we also need to affirm the uniqueness of others. Other people may be unique in ways we find exasperating, but even so, the world would be a poorer place if the special characteristics of any of its inhabitants were missing.
There is also a uniqueness that should be appreciated about life itself. As the days of our lives go by, it would help us to enjoy the uniqueness of each of those days, and indeed, each of the moments within those days. Many of us (especially the more organized) tend to plan and prepare our times of happiness. We schedule our delightful occasions, and we often want them to be just like those we’ve enjoyed before. But each day presents us with unique delights, and we should not resist their one-of-a-kind appeal. “Seize from every moment its unique novelty, and do not prepare your joys” (André Gide).
If any of us had been given the job of creating the world, we would have made it more bland. Averse to irregularity and unpredictability, we would have made a “safe” world where sameness was the rule. But oh, how boring such a world would have been! The uniqueness that pervades the real world may result in an awkward moment now and then, but the advantage of uniqueness is well worth whatever downside there may be. I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“No two men are alike, and both of them are happy for it” (Morris Mandel).