Karma Chameleon

by | Sep 11, 2012

I’m very easily influenced.

In high school a friend called me a chameleon. He said I took on the traits of whomever I was most interested in at the time. He meant it as an insult. I thought it sounded pretty good.

What better than to be able to meet new people and absorb the best of what they have to offer.

I’m a pisces. (Go ahead, laugh, I realize that talking about astrology is ridiculous). Even worse, I’ll even go so far as to say that I identify as a pisces.

Pisces is a mutable sign.


Mutable is changeable. As a water sign and the last sign of the zodiac, Pisces is the most chameleon-like of them all. Pises absorbs and takes on different traits. Pisces adapts and understands change, feels at home in chaos. Pisces appears to be a kaleidoscope, but don’t be fooled, there is a core sense of self within, even if you (or she) can’t always see it.

So yeah, I identify with that. And while others might see it as a fault, I’m learning to revel in it.

Weak-willed, fence-sitter, spineless, accepting, submissive, indecisive, unmotivated, impersonator, follower, lacking initiative, fickle.

Disparaging words. I’ve heard them from others, but sadly, I’ve probably used them on myself more often.

Open-minded, intuitive, empathetic, impressionable, generous, compassionate, adaptable, easy-going, perceptive, instinctual, imaginative, good at taking direction (an actor thing).

It occurs to me that not everyone considers these compliments, but I do. And I would prefer to focus on the positive influences my malleable traits offer.

Today is not the first time these thoughts (practical as well as astrological) have occurred to me, although they seem to be more common lately as I examine my life and try to understand myself (also a very Piscean-trait, as it turns out, and I probably shouldn’t bother getting my hopes up about “figuring it out”).

But today I did happen to have a very real, obvious reaction that I couldn’t help but notice. It was on my mind all day, and if that’s not a signifier that it’s time to get some words out of your head (and into, say, a blog post), I don’t know what is.

I’ve been wearing a bike helmet all summer. Every single trip since I started biking this season.

It hasn’t always been this way. Last year I wore a helmet when expecting to travel on busy streets (the drivers in this city frighten me), but didn’t usually bother for the trip to work and back (mainly on bike paths) every day. A helmet was an occasional thing.

But this year a few things contributed to my incredibly consistent helmet wearing:

  • I heard a story about a girl I know (not very well) who had a bad bike accident and suffered some minor head injuries. Her doctor told her she was “lucky she was wearing a helmet or she’d likely be dead.”
  • At the end of last season I came upon a really bad bike collision on the hill that I ride every day on my way to and from work. These guys were in rough shape. Especially the one who wasn’t wearing a helmet.
  • Probably because of the previous two points, I bought a super-cute helmet to replace the sporty (read: ugly) one I had.

And I wore my cute helmet every day.

Until today.


So weird, in fact, that I couldn’t help but notice. I didn’t notice that my helmet was in my hall closet when I left for work (I’ve been locking it to my bike down in my parkade so I don’t have to carry it back and forth all the time). I didn’t even notice when I unlocked my bike. But as I put my bags in my basket I sure did notice. And I paused. I paused for a minute to consider whether I should run back upstairs (only two flights) to get my helmet before leaving. I was actually early this morning, and certainly had time. If i had left my iPhone upstairs you can be damn sure I would have gone back for it. But my helmet? Nope. Not today.

Why not?

This is the question I asked myself as I biked to work this morning. Hair flying free (man, I’ve missed that feeling), ears a bit chilly (it was cold! My helmet would have kept me warm), and grinning like an idiot enjoying the ride and not worrying about the consequences (isn’t that a great feeling? You’ve felt that, right?).

And it struck me.

I had a conversation with someone on Saturday night about bike helmets. A conversation that included well-thought-out and downright persuasive points. Did I actively listen to his arguments and make a conscious decision to go helmet-less? No. My understanding and reaction were much more subtle than that. I didn’t even realize a change was happening until it was done. Does this mean I’m never going to wear a helmet again? Of course not! But can I go without every once in awhile? I think so.

I like learning from others. It might even be something that I’m willing to admit I’m good at. I am proud of the fact that I have an open mind and am willing to listen to and really hear different perspectives. This is what it’s all about for me.

So someone might get me into art or punk or hockey or philosophy or teaching or folk music or video games or writing or sailing or whatever. My interests might seem to be dependent upon who I’m close to (although my experience tells me my focus is more likely to evolve or ebb and flow than drastically change), but don’t mistake my adaptability for weakness. Don’t assume that your strong convictions make you stronger than me.

Chameleons kick ass.