Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?
Johnny: Whadda you got?
The outsider lives in an original world, a unique world, a world of individual perspective, free from the pressure of the group. Once the outsider attaches to an anothers ideology or relationship or an image that was created by someone else, he loses some of that uniqueness; he loses some of that originality, a bit of his individuality; twisting and turning to exist within this new construct; having to learn the rules of this new reality, the reality of conforming to another’s perspective, another’s truth.
Only free from attachment can we fully realize ourselves.
Now, there are things to be learned by being part of a group or romantic relationship, certainly things about ourselves we couldn’t otherwise know; how we function in association with this particular individual or what types of individuals, or how we function within an organization. We find out if we are patient or jealous or petty or generous or popular; emotions that have lain dormant and are only revealed when confronted with circumstance and the pressure of others. A worthy pursuit without a doubt; part of our greater understanding of ourselves within our relationship to the world. What we sacrifice for this enlightenment however, is our pure individual connection to the reality around us, without crutches, ourselves the sole engine that drives us. Thought of acceptance if not, no factor, then a much diminished one. The outsider rails against and speaks truth to power, makes others believe and realize that they can too; that they can stay true to their own vision, even if its a little different.
This perspective is needed as much now as ever; we always need those who ‘think different’. It’s ok if someone doesn’t know what they think/want next, just that they don’t want that! Or this, or whatever it is, individuality is truly what keeps the world moving and yet our society attempts at every turn to quash it, squash it, litigate against it or the ultimate death…assimilation.
It seems we get into the cycle of independent original thought before success, then we must wait for the next wave for the brief flash of creativity before its absorbed, repackaged and spit back out.
People often say that when in a relationship it is important to not ‘lose yourself’ to maintain your ‘independence’ within the relationship, and that this is the ‘healthiest’ kind of relationship, and yet we do it, willingly, we crave it, strive for it, desperately……why? I don’t just mean within a romantic relationship, but also within our relationship with friends, work, our hobbies or our government.
Is it important to keep our distance or to immerse ourselves in our passion? Are both possible?
Too often it seems people give up themselves for the idea of being a part of something larger; history is littered with examples of ‘mob mentality’ and yet we often frown on those without ties, or those long single or childless, as if there must be something wrong with them somehow, that they are damaged or broken, when in fact, most of these conventions society is so comfortable with are tremendously flawed, often antiquated, outdated, archaic. Yet we cling to them, afraid to step out into the storm and scoff at those that choose to live in the wild world free (somewhat) from association.
It is often those that live an unattached life, largely, that push the world forward. The outliers, the rebels.
When in relationships, we are often consumed with thoughts and questions about the relationship, is it working? How to make it work better? Is there a future? Thoughts about ‘self’ only within the confines of the relationship, with our family, business, lover, friends, social network, much of our creative energy now consumed by these extensions and exertion. We choose to live within this web that we create for ourselves, often purposefully limiting our choices. Once we resign ourselves to this edifice with the world, this is what will inform us. When we are children, this becomes even more pronounced.
We are taught from a young age that the only way to succeed is to ‘commit’, fully commit to something or you will fail. So we take the well worn path society has carved out for us and we lose any semblance of the part of us that makes us different from every other person who has ever lived for the sake of the safety of conformity. We teach conformity but celebrate independence….but often only after conventional success.
The animals in the book Animal Farm all wanted to be free; they would watch the farmers living in the house eating and laughing and dancing, longing to be a part of it, so they devised a plan and with the help of the other animals the pigs defeated the people and their most ardent wish came true; the house and all in it was theirs. Then the pigs, just the pigs, moved into the house and much to the horror of the other animals, they became indistinguishable from the people. They had been corrupted.
In art and culture we celebrate the rebel, we love the independent thinker, Apple created a whole campaign around it; we say we want it, we say we appreciate it, as long as its not next door it seems, or in the office next to us; we have made a world that is harder and harder for independence to flourish; we don’t nurture it and only love it after we punish those responsible for it and render it toothless; once the person or thought can no longer scare us, and of course, if we can profit from the waning credibility of it, only then will we accept it.
We worship our new god now, efficiency. But it was the existence of the independent thinker throughout human history who made us see a different world, made us question our leaders, maybe inspired us to demand more from our own lives, to not accept less then we want and maybe push for something better.
We see it over and over again in politics, where someone runs as an ‘outsider’, promises the world and then gets a little power and becomes more concerned with keeping power than keeping their word and unfortunately that entails taking care of the money above all else.
Its the rare person who stays true to their individual vision and lives according to their own rhythm, and it is these people who make the world a much more interesting place for the rest of us.