Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup – smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that don't really fit you – put them on. Put on a top that doesn’t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that don’t match. Different lengths, materials, colors, elasticity.
Now two shoes. You know the drill.
Need to add more? Ties? Hair clips? Stick your gut out? I trust you to go further.
Take a picture.
Get ready to post it online.
Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why don’t you care?
By now, you may be getting the idea that this Trust30 writing project, ostensibly on Emerson's "Self Reliance," is marching to its own beat. It isn't necessarily like any other program that you may have signed up for.
It doesn't care. I don't mean that in a callous way but in a "This is what I am with no apologies offered; you make up your own mind" -kind of way.
Thus, welcome to day 31 of a 30 day project. Come in and play if you want to, or not. Completely up to you, my dear.
I half-smile and confess that I was sort of expecting something like this. OK, here's my ante, deal me in...
The picture at the top is my "non-conformist" period, circa 1977. College senior, too cool for the world, long hair, ripped jeans, medallion around the neck. The adults who knew me thought I had lost my mind. "What happened to the nice young man we knew all of this time?" was frequently tossed my way.
This is also the time that my parents started the whole divorce drama, my mom moved towards a mental breakdown, the family unit illusion started to splinter and crack and my father and I almost came to blows, starting the twenty year separation.
Drama, drama, drama etc. My look matched the feeling. And guess what?
I looked just like virtually everyone else my age. Hair, clothes, attitude, etc. The only thing that I utterly rejected were all of the drugs available to me (other than alcohol, which was legal from the time I turned 18. Even that, I shied away from after one near-fatal night.)
I remind myself of that frequently when I look at the pierced, tatted, spiked, outlandish fashion, mood and attitude of many of today's twenty-somethings. They look like their friends, their peers... just like everyone else.
We make a statement to predominantly stand in lockstep with "our generation." Those who don't both gain and lose, as do all who color outside the lines. It molds and shapes our story and by and large, it tends to be a mostly unconscious period. Highly reactive; minimally creative.
And it is all OK. No harm, no foul; it is a platform we build to decide where we go from here.
The last part of this "bonus" prompt (and don't be shocked if another pops up tomorrow; I won't) asks lots of questions, all dealing around the main event - How does this make you feel?
Feelings that I truly understanding to be the language of the soul...
Feelings that will guide you towards your wisdom...
Feelings that will frame your life in the light...
If we choose to honor them.
How do you feel when you think about that?