A few weeks back I saw a beautifully scripted film called Adaptation written by Andy Kauffman.
The film is basically an attempt by Andy to adapt a book called “The Orchid Thief”. He has so much trouble adapting the book into a movie that he ends up weaving his troubled attempts with the story from the book. Lots of fiction within a non-fiction (reminds me of everyday Life itself)!
In the book/movie there is an eccentric character named “John Laroche”. His passion for orchid flowers moves the author so much that it makes her realize what it is really like to be passionate about something in life. He was really crazy about orchids – so much that he knew almost all the species and sub-species of it with their scientific name!
The author states “I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately.” Hence the book.
But halfway through the film something bothered me. Actually, not bothered, but something that re-confirmed what I have myself felt a lot of the times. But we don’t generally want to accept or share about such a thing. Halfway through the novel we learn that orchids weren’t the first passion of John. Long ago he was very passionate about fishes. And when the author asks what happened to it and then John replies:
John Laroche: Then one morning, I woke up and said, “Fuck fish.” I renounce fish; I will never set foot in that ocean again. That’s how much “fuck fish.” That was 17 years ago and I have never stuck so much as a toe in that ocean. And I love the ocean.
Susan Orlean: But why?
John Laroche: Done with fish.
And with that he moves on to his next passion – orchids. And then later to pornography!
I wasn’t sure at first how to react to such drastic changes. But then later I thought we do the exact same thing hundreds of times in our own life too. We hold something dear to us, feel proud, feel passionate about it and then just like that one day it goes away. We move on.
This made me think more and more specifically on people that come and go. People get replaced in our life just like passions got replaced in John Laroche’s life. The people we feel passionate about get replaced one day or the other.
Friends get replaced.
Lovers get replaced.
Pets get replaced.
Parents too get replaced for some.
This brings me to the topic of this post – Irreplaceability.
I am not going to touch the subject of replacing one’s family member. I strongly believe that no matter how messed up your family or how dysfunctional it is, the sense of irreplaceability will always be there even if you don’t want to express it.
But on the other hand I am unsure about the other people in our lives. If you are old enough than you have seen and observed and went through the process of replacing friends, lovers, relatives, pets, etc. At one point we make promises to ourselves and to others to stay close forever but on a long enough timeline only a couple of people end up with you. Everyone else gets replaced.
I am trying to understand why we choose to replace someone who once was so dear to us. Hence this essay.
One reason that comes to mind immediately is lack of staying in touch. I believe this is primary reason that “affects” our school friends. Once you move on to something completely else including moving away geographically, then the emotional distance keeps getting larger and we eventually replace the school friend with a person who we are interacting with on a daily basis.
Next is emotional investment. I believe this primarily affects the lovers, ex-lovers, friends who get friend-zoned, etc. You get attracted to a person and start an emotional relationship. But when things don’t work out, one or both will start distancing away. We start coming up with millions of reasons to stay away, not stay away, etc. etc. etc. Yet, at the end, it is nothing but us realizing that the emotional investment is not paying off and so let’s move on.
There are other interesting reasons too – betrayal of trust, impulsive-based decisions, introversion, jealousy, etc. In our lifetime, we will probably experience each of it.
Another interesting aspect of this is something we all have almost experienced. No matter how flawed your friend is, you just don’t seem to get yourself away from that person. But if you observe carefully, the reason might be just that you have not found a replacement. The day you do find another friend, lover, pet, etc. you will start drifting off. So on a long enough timeline, everyone is replaceable.
So this brings me to the following conclusions:
- On a long enough timeline everyone and everything is replaceable.
- The only way to avoid replacing someone is to do anything and everything you can to avoid getting replaced yourself from the other person’s life.
If you find yourself disagreeing with point 1, then obviously you are doing point 2 well enough with your real-life partner.
There is also a wonderful quotation from Coco Chanel: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
Please understand I am not trying to rationalize or theorize here. The problem in doing so would be simply because humans are irrational at nature. One cannot label this behavior on everyone. This short essay is just a reflection on an experience which we all humans will go through no matter where you live or your age, etc.
Well, this is all I have to write about on this topic. Hope this provides a reason to reflect on your past or present experiences related to irreplaceability.