A Chameleon’s True Color

More often than not, I find myself sloughing off my current identity for a new one. This is not unusual for the age in which we live, the Generation X of which I am a part, the world in a constant state of flux. A state of no change has always meant death, but now more so than ever, even a resistance to change brings you pretty darn close. I have changed my colors so many times I don’t even remember my color – even in the literal sense. Someone recently asked me what my favorite color was and I had to come up with one on the spot. It occurred to me at the time, that it was definitely not my answer the last time but I couldn’t remember what the real answer was, or even if there was one at all. There is at least one difference between me and the chameleon though: every time I change color it hurts. Sure I recover and I am stronger and more experienced, yaddi yaddi yadda and all that jazz, but the nicks begin to accumulate into gashes before they have time to scar. Is it possible to reach a limit? A change threshold? Because I think I have reached it. But what does one do? How can I be true to myself and be proud of who I am when I have forgotten who that is?

I recently had a rather mundane experience that nevertheless illustrates my dilemma, or at least in my twisted head it does. As you may or may not be in the loop, due to my recent social media update dead zone, I decided to leave France at the end of my first year at cooking school because I discovered that it was, to put it diplomatically, not a mutually beneficial relationship. I have now moved to Slovenia, an itty bitty, chicken shaped country that I used to think was somewhere in Eastern Europe, but have recently discovered that it is in fact in Central Europe and a very developed country to boot, yay! Now for the question you must all be asking, why Slovenia? Well, to cut the proverbial long story short, it’s probably the only reason a (fill in the blank with the appropriate foreign nationality) immigrates to Slovenia –  I fell in love with a Slovene. For the über fascinating story on how we met look out for a future post “How we met” that I will definitely write someday now that I’ve promised you here.

Anyways, back to the story at hand. Shortly after my arrival I got myself a sim card. I had to fiddle with it for ages and sort through a pretty hefty manual (for a sim card that usually just requires one to insert it into the phone) but finally, I managed to locate the the pin to unlock the card and though my phone refused to show me my phone number where it usually would under settings, I again sifted through the papers, located my number and wrote it down for safekeeping. After it was all done I took the papers and chucked them all away, because as a figurative chameleon I need to avoid all encumbrances so I am always sorting through my stuff and getting rid of what I deem unnecessary. I am proud of my highly honed sense of how to de-clutter one’s life because it usually is a very good skill to have, except of course, when it’s not. Case in point, amid the pile of paper work I ceremoniously threw in the bin, was the pin that I needed should I ever turn off my phone. I was working off of 3 incredibly wrong assumptions: firstly my phone never goes off, secondly, I was under the impression that once unlocked, the SIM would stay unlocked, thirdly, pins lost can always be recovered somehow, like forgotten passwords. While I never do turn off my phone, it can turn off against my will if for instance it runs of of batteries or I drop it. As Murphy’s law would have it, I did indeed drop the phone not even a week after I got the new SIM, causing the battery to disengage and locking once again the SIM. As we already established, my other assumptions were false, rendering my new SIM totally useless.

Why would you throw that away? My man, who has to think really hard and long before he throws anything away, a characteristic that usually really annoys me because it clutters up our tiny apartment with stuff I deem unnecessary, looked at me with wide eyed wonder. As I listed for him the reasons, I realized that when I said them aloud, they seemed kind of silly and I all of a sudden hated my pathological compunction to get rid of things.  If I’m totally honest, it isn’t the first time or even the fifth time I’ve thrown away something important. In fact this wasn’t even that important – it was a mistake that costs 11 euros and another trip to the mall. The real reason why I was so irrationally angry with myself was because I didn’t want to be like this anymore. 

This one little thing, though it was mildly annoying, frustrated the hell out of me because it symbolized everything that being a chameleon had meant for my life. The things I’ve sacrificed or simply discarded but later regretted it, the paths chosen that prevented other paths from being chosen – that in choosing this life of excitement and change, I missed out on a life that could have involved settling down with a family of my own and building a more one-dimensional but solid career.

Sometimes I lay awake at night or I wake up in cold sweat because I am resisting change with every cell in my body, but I can’t because nature won’t allow it. I want to pick a face and never take it off but I am worried I don’t have the right one on. I have put on so many faces that I fear I have misplaced or even discarded the right one in triage. I live in a state of fear that I am missing something critical, and that it may be something other than just the right face. I fear that my reasoning process is full of holes and that I will discover only too late, something that I let go of is irrevocably gone. We live in an age of information where everything is a mouse click away, but how can we recover something that has no search parameters or something for which no search engine yet exists? I rack my brain, hoping that the solution will hit me – a way to recover everything so that I can have peace of mind, but to no avail. Is it gone forever, like data in a hard drive smashed beyond repair?

What does a chameleon do to sit on a leaf and avoid becoming green? If it managed that, what color would it be then?


About Jean C Wong

I am a world traveler, writer, photographer, and teacher. I've lived all over the world and speak 5 languages.


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