Random Thoughts Indexed

Freaks... individuals extroverting their sense of "being different" - what are we to make of them?

Normal people... the ones who seem to get along, have their place in life, what is their deal - are they really that boring?

This category can be looked at two ways - there are the "obvious" freaks, those whose demeanor, dress, or general appearance says "I am not one of you," and there are the people who may look outwardly "normal" but inside feel lost, alienated, or rejected while they try to live some sort of life.

Many, I think it is safe to say, are simply fitting in with some group they feel comfortable with, rather than expressing some extreme sense of individuality. Yes, they are expressing what they think of as "them self" but they are doing it within the range permitted by their clique, their peers, their sense of popular fashion. Yet, some are extroverting their sense of separateness from the ordinary stream of life, by saying back, "you do not make me feel comfortable being myself, so I will take on an appearance that challenges you, makes you uncomfortable as well." The problem with this is it does very little to make that person happier - they cannot just look around for the other "weirdos" for like minded companionship, since most of them are also "normal!"

It is a real tightrope... I am certainly not making an argument to conceal ones inner self and "fit in," but sometimes being able to travel undercover, as it were, helps you get closer to the people who are truly like yourself. They are also not necessarily trying to punch the world in the eye over their issues - but they carry them close to their heart and seek to bring them up, to share them, every chance they get. They might be sick of the trendy crowd whining about how pretentious "everyone" is, all the while looking like generic streetcorner punks in the their colored hair, piercings, and tattoos. Not very interesting company.

There is some news for you here, all you foolish, trendy, silly-looking kids - everyone feels alienated! Yes, to be human, in the flesh, and to think and feel, at all, is to feel so alone at times you could die. No one walks through life feeling "normal." To be sure, many perhaps seem to find like-minded friends, partners, co-workers, or frat brothers. But it is just a comfort, just a slightly warmer room to be all alone in. They feel safer, perhaps, that their chosen circle is public and approved of, but their tender intimacies are still just as risky, just as easily lost as anyones.

There is a reason for the ever-growing popularity of the music produced for (and by) the young - they so often speak of and to this loneliness, this anguish at being alive - it is that we all feel this, at least at times, and it does not go away as we get older. So each new "generation" not only needs its own music now, it also feeds off the music of the previous decades more than ever, while also needing to rebel against even the good stuff produced by their parents generation.

There is a fascinating paradox inherent in the idea of rebelling against conformity by adopting a style of fashion that will enable you to find those who are like minded - since that is in a sense the very definition of conformity. From the outside it always looks stereotypical one way or another (since any subgroup or subculture that adopts an external "marker" will be noticed and identified by others, as well) but to the insiders, be they fraternity boys, angry young gothic girls, or successful people of the business world, the individuating marks are intensely obvious. They only look "all the same" to outsiders.

So what do we do (yes, "we," since I am certainly some sort of freak, even though I own a vacuum cleaner) if we feel like there is no group to which we need or can belong?

What, then, do we do? We carry our sense of self strongly, we do not compromise it. When there is an opening (which we can make if we want), we let the tip of the iceberg out, with a comment that reveals there might be more. if our companion, our listener, plays along with the gambit, they up the ante (I think I have now triple-mixed this metaphor - sorry) and get a bit more personal - a bit more intimate. They risk talking about the things they think are taboo, or "weird," the things they think "regular society" does not approve of, or never feels. They risk actually knowing us as people - and letting us know them. Occasionally this mild conversational risk taking exposes to us another truly living person in their repsonses, and that is the potential reward in every stranger we meet.

    There are a lot of people between the ages of 15 and 30 who sport permanently inked statements from deep within their sense of self on their skin, for some, most or all to see. They may be temporarily the subject of prejudice in employment, but as the years go by, some of them will become the employers, and also the customers, who will no longer be offended by the vendors' representatives tattoos. They will also become the parents. In all the "tattoo conversations" I have been privy to, I have never heard anyone, ever put down someone else's tattoo. Not for location (discreet? closeted? chicken? rude?), subject matter, or quality. That is pretty unique, I think.

    At the same time, I do not think that it is necessary to paint ones spiritual references on ones skin in order to honor and remember their existence... and I have never felt like I thought or believed anything with enough conviction to emblazon it forever on my flesh. Except the right to keep learning and growing, which is represented best, I think, by a clear skin and conscience.

This is America! It is a free country: all you have to do is keep your bills paid and you can live any way you want!

So keep your cost of living down and hang on to your freedom.

6/2/01

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© Huw Powell
humanthoughts.org

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