Gifts of Weirdness

I think, often in our struggle to become successful individuals, we become part of a herd. In our desire to become rich and famous, we simply fall into a state of complacency in which we discover monotony and monetary success, but no vibrancy or enthusiasm. We have found ourselves in a place where success is commonplace — we have all become ‘the best.’

And I think it starts when we are young. We struggle and strive to be the smartest in our class, and when we get straight A’s, we are proud of our accomplishment — but we fail to see all the other children who attained straight A’s as well. And then we go to college where we build up our resumes. In an effort to stand out on paper, we join a club that does good things, or maybe we even start one ourselves. And still, we fail to see all the others who have done the same. And when we go to our first interview, we stand up tall, sit up straight, answer questions confidently and professionally and leave with a firm hand shake. And still we remain ignorant of all the other qualified applicants who have done exactly the same. We have all become ‘successful’ and in so doing, we have all become the same.

I think we often fail to see the diverse individual gifts of each and every person that do not translate well to a resume. We shun the oddities and quirkiness of individuals as worthless and weird. We shun them instead of pulling them into the light and showing them for what they are — a break from the herd, a chasm of endless potential in the monotonous landscape of modern success.

Many of us learn to be successful — go to school, get good grades, create a good resume, and get a good job. But not enough of us learn to be different, to be odd, to be quirky, and to be our own selves. Those that do, need to have the courage to follow their whimsical dreams. Because when they do, they are the ones who alter the paradigms, change the future, and actively create a world of tangible imagination, all encompassing love, and sublime contentment.

Stay weird you stooges.

The Strangers We Think We Know

We have gotten used to strangers. They are the people we pass by in the street like a monotonous flow of flesh. They are the ones we hope don’t look us in the eye as we pass, or the ones who stand quietly shoulder to shoulder with us in elevators. They are the ones we are afraid to wave a quick “hello” to as they drive by our homes. Those are the strangers we understand — they are ubiquitous, generalized, and benign. We all know what to expect from them — nothing.

But what of the strangers we think we know — the stranger who lives inside of those we know best? What of the histories of our loved ones and our best friends that lie dormant? Just like those strangers on the street, we never raise a “hello” to the old histories of those closest to us. Their histories, whether they are full of pain, or full of love, lie unknown to us. We may hear second hand stories from aunts and uncles, brothers or sisters, but they lack detail and potency. These histories are never accessed directly from the individual, for fear of that which is strange or  difficult to talk about. But that history that we leave in the darkness is an important part of those people. It is the window through which we can see others as they see themselves. Some are windows of unbearable pain, whereas others are windows of transcendent happiness, and some are a glorious mix of both. But we can only get to those windows through those who lived that history — direct from the source.

Because we don’t access the unspoken stranger in others, we lose out on those personal histories. We lose out on those stories. And as my grandparents get older, I realize the gleaning absence of those personal histories in any form that will continue into the future. The diaries are worn and beaten, the oral stories are told far too infrequently to be remembered. And for that reason, the personal stories take on the guise of strangers to us — benign, generalized, and ubiquitous. The ones we’ve heard flow together to form an ambiguous story of a dying generation. When people pass away, those personal histories pass with them. We need to do our best to grab hold of the stranger in those we love, and pull those stories out into the light. Because when they are gone, we can not pull back the ghost of that stranger. I’ve tried. He will be gone forever.

A View Through Melted Sand

Sitting here at the window, I’ve been thinking of how odd it is the way we live. Currently, I look out of a piece of blown glass, some ten plus feet off the ground where trees once stood not so long ago. I look out at vertical containment walls surrounding the designated plots of owned land, some wood, some iron, some painted, some stained – but all barriers. The only living things I see are shoddily manicured trees and shrubs – all of which look like misplaced horrors, especially the naked ones. They stand where we want them to, in lines, once again to designate barriers, although this time not as blatantly as the fences. I see large boxes with slanted roofs atop them. All too big for the number of humans living in them. All nicely organized, all quite strange looking once you look at them for what they are. And the oddest objects catch my eye often when the sun glints off their shiny shells. Several cars are in my view, all black, all glistening, all quite odd. They patiently wait in driveways until they begin their churning of gears, moving us and our possessions at inhumanly high speeds.

And it’s Sunday. So we all sit indoors and hope that time passes slowly today. We drink and we dread tomorrow. And we watch football and hope we end the day happy – because we know we won’t be when we wake in the morning.


“I’m a little sorry…”

“I’m a little sorry I wasn’t wounded in front; it looks cowardly to be hit in the back, but I obeyed orders, and it don’t matter in the end, I know.”

– John, a dying Union soldier at Fredericksburg; as quoted by Louisa May Alcott

I was just sitting at my desk here and saw this quote hanging up on my wall. It’s one I kept from a daily Civil War calendar. It shows a lot of humility, and a lot of courage. And a willingness to accept. And it’s terribly sad – horribly sad.

Image: Library of Congress; Burying the dead on the battlefield of Antietam by Alexander Gardner