As the oldest kid in my family, I got to do a lot of things first. Some of it was because I was the eldest and other times it was because I have been in sales since I could talk. (My grandmother used to tell people that I had "the gift of gab" like my grandfather - a hog salesman in the Omaha Stockyards)
And when you are the first, that means others will follow. They will want to try what you tried if it looks like something worth doing. Especially if the ones that saw you do it are your younger siblings. And that didn't always sit well with me.
When I went first, that usually meant there was something that didn't go quite right, a cost of sorts that I had to pay, and a certain pride in the process that I wanted to enjoy. But then along comes a little sister or a little brother and they get to do the cool thing without having to "walk to school uphill both ways in the snow" and I would get frustrated. First, because it seemed like it was a lot easier for them to do because I'd done the experimental hard part, but second because that was my thing and I liked being the one doing that thing, I wasn't sure I was ready to share it.
When I would get flustered like this, my mom would frequently say,
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery..."
And while I did my best to appreciate what she was trying to say, "Your siblings are doing these things because they want to be like you - and that is a good thing." I wasn't always ready to hear it. I wanted my thing to be my thing and only my thing.
As time went on, I came to realize that my mom (and Oscar Wilde, the originator of the quote) was right. I came to realize that even if someone is doing something that could be perceived as imitation - if they are doing it at all, they are doing it in a way that is unique to themselves. To do something exactly the way that someone else has done something is challenging and to do it with the same outcome is even closer to impossible.
But today, the best remixes are visible to those who originate the remixed work. For all of history, it used to be possible to "remix" someone else's work in a new town and call it your own.
But we are all remixing the work of others that have gone before us. We are all taking a thing that was discovered or tested by another first and putting it into play in our own part of the world. But with our own set of new variables put into the end result. From geography to past experiences to our time in history, these factors are all leading to a different outcome than anyone else that has come before us.
And that is elevating the expectations of everyone paying attention. We all know more of what is possible because of what we've seen from others. Our expectations are even higher now than before. The quality of a remix is even more powerful than it used to be. Curiosity is leading that charge - what else could be done with this idea? This music? This art?
But what about when you look at your life - what areas need remixing? Where have you taken for granted the way it was done before and you need to infuse it with more of your unique spin on the classics? You are the only one in history to have the exact makeup of past and present ingredients that could bring about a new future. Don't worry about anyone else's creation - remix yours.