I knew something was different about me very early on. The first time I realized this around the age of six. There I was, sitting in bed, joyously scribbling away in my Tom and Jerry coloring book and singing loudly to myself when it crossed my mind I was quite happy with no one else around. I truly remember this moment. I liked being in the company of others just fine, but I didn’t miss them when they weren’t there. I’m almost fifty-six now with no brothers or sisters, but back then there was no way of knowing if siblings were going to be in my life or not, so expectations of a bigger family remained open. Either way it didn’t matter, I craved neither solitude nor companionship, whatever the moment offered was quite comfortable. I also knew this attitude was different than most.
My teachers thought I was a bundle of nerves with a big mouth. I was; still am as an adult, but at least now I have increased self-awareness with my tendencies as well as an ability to redirect my energies, though sometimes it’s a little past my initial expressiveness. I was also rude, but never consciously so. My exasperated mother could not get me to say “excuse me” correctly when I walked in front of, or accidentally got in the way of others. Instead, I had it backwards for years and gleefully said “excuse you” instead, which really did come across as me being bratty. I never meant to be impolite, but I’m sure it seemed that way to those who were in my presence. Most of this stemmed from being selfish and overbearing, a side-effect of being an only child. There’s no doubt this type of behavior in today’s environment would insist on some sort of diagnosis that would require lots of drugs and possibly even therapy. Thank God I was born when I was. If I were to unknowingly meet my younger self these days I’m sure I would roll my eyes and shake my head.
My personal habits in my youth were almost always directed towards fantasy or science fiction. Reality was fun, no doubt, but the possibility of imagination becoming reality held much more intrigue. I was a Star Trek, Wild Wild West, and Lost in Space kid. My library was soon filled with similar themes as I grew older and began to voraciously read. L. Frank Baum’s OZ books, A.A. Milne, The Chronicles of Narnia, and everything written by Edgar Rice Burroughs filled many hours of mental journeys. My artwork reflected my tendencies (and still does) when a brush, pen, or pencil was above a blank page. My room, my toys, were also in line as well. Everything one could think and create with, construction sets, art supplies, and, of course, books were my go-to playthings. Yes, I had cars, GI Joe, and sports stuff, but they were fall-back activities. I did play softball almost every day on the playground, so physical pastimes were abundant, but my mind was always elsewhere.
As I grew older I shifted away from my nature. What once was a powerful connection to my spirit faded a little every day as I became more and more hedonistic. This is where I deliberately began to withdraw from my fantasies. I went from being inspired by inward motives, to choosing to be influenced by outward ones. The walls effectively went up, and my wings of imagination came crashing down. Here is where I effectively became “normal.” All too soon I had a vast library of excuses for abandoning my hopes and dreams, in essence I joined the “tribe” and began goose-steeping to the tedious drone the majority of the population mindlessly embraces.
What IS normal one might ask? Well, in my observation the behaviors most people share define what’s totally acceptable, not only because they (usually) remain unchallenged, but also because they serve an agenda that justifies excuses for avoiding taking action. This is a cancerous lifestyle because most of our oblivious thought processes are great examples of misery loving company; we cyclically feed on each others bad habits. Please don’t think I’m past this, I’m not. All too often I catch myself joining in the mob mentality, my ego steps in, and I start playing the game with practiced ease.
Normal is therefore –
- Accusing circumstance for how you act and feel.
- Being late most of the time; or at the very least being highly rushed.
- Trying to be different or stand apart from the outside in.
- Worrying about reputation.
- Thinking it’s inevitable certain “things” must happen the older we get, weight gain is, ahem… a big example.
- Money equals happiness.
- Wondering why everyone is so much luckier than you.
- Hating Mondays, traffic, getting out of bed, supervisors, and your ex. Basically HATING too much.
- A sense of lack.
- Constantly comparing ourselves to others.
- Wanting all the rewards in life without actually working for them.
- Being overly offended, which, by the way, is nothing more than a covert way of judging others.
- Holding grudges.
- Consistently defending oneself.
- Pointing out flaws in everything: which is a cowardly act of misdirection designed to keep others from treating you the way you treat them.
Are ALL these observations normal? No need to ask me for reassurance, just look around for yourself and notice the type of body language most present themselves with, listen to the tone and delivery of how people typically speak as well as the attitudes that drive the agendas of average people. Do their motives fit many if not all the examples given above? Sadly, yes. Most people have fallen under the influence of thinking life can be fixed from the outside in, therefore what’s wrong is “out there”. We’re convinced we can change how we act and feel by manipulating the world around us rather than simply changing how we react. “Normal” is a comfort zone because the behavior is acceptable. The more we step out of the comfort zone, OR the more we embrace imagination, possibility, and personal power, the more we’re labeled as weird, because in doing so we don’t fit the tribe mentality.
Let’s look at a reversed list and perhaps this will enlighten as to just how rare, or of course abnormal it sounds.
Weird is therefore –
- Owning how you act and feel.
- Never being late, always relaxed.
- Doing what it takes to be different from the inside out.
- Not caring about what others think.
- Bring grateful.
- Knowing that you can defy the idea of how people age, and prove it through examples.
- Happiness equals money. (LOVE this one)
- Feeling blessed no matter how bad things get.
- Loving Mondays, getting up the moment the alarm goes off to enjoy the day, empathizing with your boss, and wishing the best for your ex. Basically LOVING everything.
- A sense of abundance.
- Comparing who and what you are, with where you were.
- Willing to put forth any effort to achieve what you want.
- Not letting hardly anything bother you, which will cultivate empathy.
- Easily forgiving.
- Embracing accountability.
- Looking for the beauty in everything, which prompts others to do the same in kind.
To me it seems that imagination and compassion complement each other, just as ignorance and animosity are obviously close relatives. If nothing else the first list describes someone who is thoroughly boring and predictable, while the second list supports the type of person who is interesting and spontaneous. It’s ALSO important to point out the first list embraces a posture of inaction and blame, while the second one typifies a lifestyle of action and responsibility.
When I abandoned old beliefs and habits and embraced new ones, I reignited long lost passions I’d convinced myself were forever lost. This was actually a side-effect to my recovery, and I did not expect it. I never thought I’d find fortitude just because I wanted to become different, or of course… WEIRD.
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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood