Thursday, January 15, 2015

You, Me, and Snowflakes

Glancing out the window during our most recent light snowfall, I got to thinking about snowflakes and our metaphysical resemblance to them. (Nice segue, Dorien!)

Each of us, be we human or snowflake, is unique, though when viewed in large numbers both are all but indistinguishable from one another. The closer one gets to either an individual snowflake or an individual human, the more distinct its differences become. The various components which go into each human's physical and emotional makeup--and their relative proportions--vary widely, though in most people these components are for the most party fairly well balanced. However, in others, the various elements--primarily our emotional composition--combine to produce some very strange results. 

I definitely fall into the latter category. For example, whereas most people are an easily manageable blend of self confidence and doubt, I find myself both irrationally insecure and unjustifiably egocentric, often at the same time. I am a glutton for attention and praise, yet am excruciatingly embarrassed to be singled out from a crowd. While others at a large public event effortlessly and openly display their enthusiasm, shouting and jumping up and down and waving their arms and dancing to the music, I stand like Lot's wife, an unmoving block of salt. My soul dances, but my body will not even try. And as a result I, who so fear standing out in a crowd, stand out by not being a part of it.

Like snowflakes, people vary widely in the symmetry of their physical appearance and, as a result, in their attractiveness. The laws of average dictate that there will be far, far more nondescript snowflakes as there are the nearly-perfect. And so there are infinitely more Roger Margasons than there are Tom Cruises. Perfection, in both snowflakes and the human concept of physical beauty, invariable comes down to symmetry. The "perfect" snowflake is one which is perfectly symmetrical, and studies have shown that the more symmetrical/balanced a person's facial features, the more beautiful he/she is considered to be. The perception of this symmetry in human faces is all but subliminal. Just to look at someone's face, unless the lack of symmetry is striking--which is seldom is--we don't notice that one eye is just a fraction of an inch lower on the face than the other, or that one nostril is very subtly larger than the other. But our mind subconsciously recognizes the differences.

Just as all snowflakes, no matter how they may vary from one another in appearance, share the commonality of water vapor formed around a minute speck of dust, we humans all share a common DNA, which is the core of our physical being. Though myriads of other subtle factors influence each of us, because we are biological creatures, the genetic makeup of our race influences and accounts for, either directly or subtly, the fact that the vast bulk of us have similar goals, needs, and desires. Most of us marry, or want to marry, and our need to reproduce to assure the survival of the species is a genetic imperative. 

There is a certain irony in the fact that the "be fruitful and multiply" imperative has proven so successful that we are dangerously close to imperiling our survival through uncontrolled overpopulation. With more than seven billion of us now taking up space and resources, the question is, might reproduction for preservation of the species basically been achieved? We're not in danger of running out of people. A nice, steady snowfall can be lovely: a force-10 blizzard with 20-foot snowdrifts can be devastating.

The single greatest advantage humans have over snowflakes is that, even among the billions of other humans, one single individual can have an effect over, if not all, large numbers of other humans. Snowflakes do not have leaders. And not all humans go down in the history books for influencing our fellow humans for good or for ill. But we have the ability and the power to make not only our own lives better, but to make a positive difference in at least a few others. We should use this ability far more than we do.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

And what would you like your legacy in a history book to be, sir? To have influenced millions? Or to influence one who influenced millions? Something else?

Imagine someone reading our blog posts a hundred years from now. I wonder what they'd say.