What do we put into the notion of being unique?
A post made by my university classmate Dina Iskhakova on her thoughts about uniqueness caught my attention recently and gave me some food for reflection.
She noted that something unique as something rare and given to a few as a gift was an idea we bought into at some point. Uniqueness from this perspective appears as something external and superficial, something that can be evaluated and something limited. It's the idea that was well marketed in the recent 100 years or even before, and it's been selling well. But is it indeed so?
Unique, the way we understand the word, is one of a kind, something we want and something hard to get.
But she argues that this was one of the biggest delusions of our time. She suggested that uniqueness indeed is genuineness, realness, vulnerability and selfhood.
The uniqueness doesn't come with clothes, but rather is in the way we wear these clothes.
And that thought made me pause and look deeper into it.
We all are unique, yet we also work hard all the time to be unique. We want something that would make us look different. We want to have original hobbies, wear different earrings and drive cars that are not like our neighbour's. We want to visit unique places and make special memories somewhere exceptional.
We want our weddings to be outstanding, and our kids' birthdays to be memorable. And in all of that, we forget that we were all born unique in unique circumstances, unique places and at unique moments.
If we shed all the artificial things that we think make us unique, we indeed come back to our one-of-a-kindness. But getting back to being the real us is not that simple of a journey.
To start noticing that the world around us is everchanging and beautiful is something we forget to do, being busy with that race for uniqueness. We look at snowbanks and don't realize that it consists of myriads of snowflakes, that the snow is one and only every winter, every day of the winter, every moment of every cold day.
We skip to notice how special the Saskatchewan badlands are. We don't remember to mark how distinctively fields bloom around Estevan every time we drive by deep in our routine thoughts.
How often do I hear that Saskatchewan is a drive-through province? How often do people complain that their lives are boring, and they have nothing special happening to them?
And unfortunately, most of the time only sad things like the death of a friend or loved one or a terrifying diagnosis give us that magic kick and at least for some time make us notice that every moment, every person and, first, every one of us ourselves are one of a kind. When life hits hard, we notice the genuine values of the world inside and around us. We treasure it for a bit, and if we make it out, we soon slip into the same routine.
What is it that makes us neglect the real uniqueness? I don't know. I guess, partially, it's the consumption system we built and live in, partially some ancient instincts that helped our predecessors survive. But it's definitely easy to turn a blind eye to the simple, and the most beautiful things.
Since I read Dina's post, I was consciously trying to make myself slow down and enjoy, appreciate and capture the beautiful summer moments. And as I was doing so, I came across the provincial photo contest, which I thought can be a wonderful way to actually focus on the uniqueness of people, nature and things around us.
Tourism Saskatchewan announced their annual ExploreSask Photo competition on June 15. They are calling for amateur and professional photographers and videographers to enter the captures of their favourite Saskatchewan adventures for a chance to win some prizes.
People are encouraged to submit their most striking content, which I sincerely believe can be a picture of anything if you were able to follow that path and see and capture the beauty of it. They are looking for pictures of people and places, wildlife and Prairies, food and drinks, winter, woods and water, and videos too.
The deadline is Sept. 15, which gives us the entire summer to put an effort into coming back to our unique selves. So if you feel like attempting at making your life a bit more meaningful this summer, try using your phone or camera and this tip to focus on the wonderful world around you.
It's just one of the ways, but who knows, maybe that will be the beginning of a new chapter and a new you.
P.S. Visit TourismSaskatchewan.com/Photo-Contest or call Tourism Saskatchewan toll-free at 1-877-237-2273 for more details on the contest.