I hate the question. Whats your favorite? Whats your favorite band? Whats your favorite movie? Ice Cream? Color? Country? City? It’s one of those questions that is a filler in a conversation where you are striving to just find something in common with someone so you don’t feel like you’re wasting your time. It is used to place you in a box in a persons mind, mostly innocently, but at other times in an aggressive manner to judge your tastes or classify you in some fashion.
Every time someone asks this question of me, I struggle tremendously with any answers. I don’t have favorites that jump out in my mind for any of those questions. Its all relative and relational.
As humans we strive for commonality with others, and for some reason or another, most want to share ‘favorites’, but in reality what is a favorite? Its certainly not permanent. Favorites change. I couldn’t give you a hard choice of favorite color. I might tell you orange because my car looks best in orange in my opinion, but I also might tell you teal because it matches my eyes. I might even tell you blue because it’s evoking a feeling of calm when I think of an open sky in West Texas. The experience of each memory takes us to a place in our mind that makes us feel something positive. Thats a special thing when you think about it. I don’t want to limit things to the top of any particular category.
Let us promptly say fuck off to favorites. Tell me about your experiences. Give me raw details, not a list of what you think might be common ground. Tell me about something you’re planning on doing that is going to be even better than that ‘favorite’ thing you’ve done before. Tell me how it changed your introspective world.
If asked what experiences I have, I have a flurry of memories that are worth sharing, but no one ever asks. I’m asked what is your favorite widget? I stop, I scan through my mind, I draw nil. Why is this so hard for me? All of my experiences are worthy of standing on the same podium of winning memories whether happy or sad, scary or boring. Are you asking me to prioritize?
There was the time where I sat around a campfire in Colorado talking with a bunch of strangers until 4am. What about that time I slept in the doorway of a train traveling across Germany because there were no more seats. The time I was almost attacked by a mountain lion climbing Emory Peak in Big Bend National Park. The sunset I saw riding on a motorbike in Malaysia. Sitting alone in my thoughts in a field enjoying the cool breeze. Long road trips across the country to visit friends. Holding a friends hair back as they vomit the nights good fortunes into the porcelain throne. Taking pictures of friends around East Austin at sunset. Or the time I was hanging photographs in my first gallery showing when my grandmother called to tell me my mother had died in a car accident. Not all experiences are supposed to be good and happy, but the emotions invoked by them are strong, powerful, and worthy stories worth sharing. Way better to talk about any number of those than playing favorites.
Most of us walk about thinking life is supposed to be like the photographs that grace our Instagram of Facebook profiles. That tiny sliver of moments that people like to project. The same sliver that causes sadness in others thinking that they in some way have missed out on something in their own lives, just because their experiences are different in some way. Those photos are good stories for certain, but they don’t tell the full story. They tell us only a fraction of who you are, the facade of who you want people to think you are.
Experiences append and grow. They are deeply personal. They can be shared in more than voice, so make sure to share them with everyone and make them a part of your story.