I was reading a few articles this morning and came across an amusing cartoon depicting a polar bear painting another polar bear to look like a panda. The concept of the cartoon was climate change and natural adaptation to the problem. While it was very funny, it does illustrate not only the artists point but also can be seen as an insight into human adaptability.
I have talked about masks, roles, drama, actors, etc. All of this is wrapped up in a symbology that we use to determine the reality around us and to define our lives. Unfortunately, as we go through the process of defining ourselves, what does not fit is often left out. This leaves holes in our reality or perceptions that are filled by other symbols and definitions. Often, this is not of our own choice or even our own making. The concept of the self fulfilling prophecy is not that far off. People will begin to act as they are treated. In turn, this will elicit a reaction from the world around them to support their actions.
The difficulty begins when you as an individual begin to try and break out from this cause/effect cycle and truly instill in yourself some kind of enlightenment or progress. Story after story exists of the Buddha or Lao Tzu or other enlightened souls that talk about transcending the mortal and becoming immortal. The first step in this is transcending becoming what other people shape for you. This first step of personal enlightenment can be extremely difficult. Often there is back sliding as the individual gives over to society. Other times, it becomes necessary for the individual to postpone their journey to take up the journey of another. In the end, each path reaches out into the future but may loop back on itself.