What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damn fool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.
Seriously, what am I? I am a chameleon, I change colour to suit the surroundings, like the traffic light perhaps, but inside even the chameleon remains the same. It is the same heart, lungs, brain that pulsates, it is only the outside decoration that changes.
You leave a country at the age of twenty, an age where you think everything you have believed, lived for, up to now is the right way. Blame it on youth, blame it on what the others do, fit in with your chameleon way of life and then suddenly in another place, almost another world, there are other species of life. Their background colours are different, even their language and of course let us not forget the food. What do you do? If you cannot beat them you either leave or join them and that is perhaps where the judgement, the inner self has to be revisited.
Either rediscover myself or I give up and there the personality is involves. Mr. Rushdie I never read your book, I was too busy shaping the personality of my two children and two step children at the time, but I will read it one day. You cannot shape personalities of step children, half of it has already been accomplished, but you can give them a little guidance to put them on the way, if it works. Your own children are something different, but they are not your replicas, not your carbon copies. They have a brain and a mind of their own and when one is autistic, then you cannot change it, your best possibility is form it, if you can.
What is all this talk of compromising, doing deals? Wouldn’t it be nice, as they say, but life does not work like that. If you want to fight the good fight of life, of survival and you do not have the means to dictate, then your company or whatever will dictate, and you fit in being a chameleon, as you do not want to lose your work and your monthly salary. Sounds very materialistic, but so is life. Not everyone is a Lenin, and forbid a Stalin and or a Mahatma Ghandi. Je ne suis pas Charlie and I don’t want to be.
One day you are tossed on the used pile. You are free to do what you want to do. Now is perhaps the time to break out, to demolish the borders set by your surroundings and your way of life. But wait, you feel tired, it does not work like that, unless of course, people listen to your words, cling to every idealistic path you take, but you have not yet written your book telling everyone the wise ways, because you are perhaps too lazy, or do not wish to cause a revolution in the quiet little village where you live. Perhaps you do not wish to become a public figure, a target for the public relations of today’s world.
Today I want to be me. I am lucky to be in a position to be me. My religion is me which is tolerance. I lived two years with a muslim family. I had no problem eating Pakistani food for two years and I had no problem with their way of life or religion. It was different perhaps to mine, but they had no problems with me. We had a mutual understanding of each others way of life and could even joke about it. I have lived 48 years in Switzerland, speak daily Swiss German and my way of life could be called Swiss. You can say I am the chameleon, but the chameleon is now internal as well as external.
People change over the years and I know I have changed. I understand the Swiss. Whether they understand me is something else and I know my english attachments look upon me as somewhat exotic, but I can live with it.