Tuesday, November 04, 2008

On a day when people are making choices this way or that, I am attempting to come to terms again with a notion that I've had all my life- the notion that I'm not one who "fits in" very well. Let's call it outcast mentality. I honestly have felt that way for much of my life, and it shouldn't be a surprise considering how I was raised.

I always mourned being the "outcast", and occasionally reveled in the rebellious "nonconformity" of the role (though maybe not as much as I should- the reveling, I mean). More often than not, I lamented not fitting in. No matter where I went, I felt like eventually, people were going to find me out because I wasn't like them. School, specifically junior high had a way of hammering home this idea. Thusly, the lament grew louder.

And, while I'm doing a more reflective job search at the moment, I find the theme also runs there. So, I'm doing a more indepth study of why it sometimes still bothers me about this whole "fitting in" business. Am I wired different? Is it my perspective? Is is both? Is it society?
I think it's all of the above.

Humans, as I have noted, are creatures of extremes, and aren't terribly well balanced. Because we live in a world where dualism seems to be the central mode, people automatically want to take sides. I'm on this side. You're over there. We're different. One of us is right, and one of us is wrong. It's the whole black and white thinking pattern, which fails when actually put into practice.

I'm still a victim of this pattern, although moreso when it comes to how I view myself. The blantant extremism I see at work, on TV, in people's opinions and labels of each other, modes of thinking and being- frustrates me to no end. Extremism is also exhausting. Some people are either clinging indefinitely to THEIR end of the see-saw trying not to be thrown off, others are frantically running from one end to the other when they see one end going down- which is a poor way to balance.

I've been trying to keep towards the middle. I'm edging my way there, sometimes I may slide a little, but from the middle it's easier to see the landscape and be clear about what you're seeing.

What I see, still frustrates me. Probably because I've been too much focused on the crazy people running past to keep balance and the wackos on either end clinging for dear life.

I tire of the polarization that does not fit me. I'm tired of people's constant idea that you have to fit yourself in one box or the other. The whole with us or against us attitude. It's a very narrow, very limiting perspective. It brings a whole slew of judgments with it that are skewed, sets of rules that no one can truly follow, it sets up stereotypes, and more or less keeps wedging divisions between a group of beings who honestly should know better.

Blue collar or white collar? Democrat or Republican? Man or Woman? Evolution or Intelligent Design?

It's like those stupid "personality" emails that people send around to see if you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I'm always like...what? Only two choices? I like twist cones, thanks. With sprinkles.

This is why I avoid most political/religious and other polarizing discussions or contribute little, because invariably, these things get going to be more of a soapbox on someone's opinion. My take on things, more often than not, is peppered with info from both sides plus other considerations which makes the one side or the other issue weak if not invalid.

Apparently, my teachers said in school (so my mom said) that I talked little, but when I did open my mouth other people listened. If I opened my mouth at all, it's because I took time to think about what I was saying. It's not that I don't have opinions, but I don't want to end up being dogmatic about them. I find that when I don't think about what I am saying, or fall too easily into the emotional cesspool that gets stirred up when something pushes my buttons, it's far easier to make one's mouth a shoe. (not to say that a little emotional venting doesn't help one think, but to go off on a tyrade merely for jaw flapping's sake and not come around to a new point of view is not terribly productive.)

I am and have been trying to oust the ingrained reaction to jump to either one side or the other on things- especially emotionally. I know that in the history of man, these kind of instant reactions benefitted us to help us survive, but now we are our own best predators. And this kind of knee jerk reaction and pigeon holing mindset is the kind of thing that doesn't move us beyond our state of animalistic quibbling.

Especially in my line of work, most people take sides really quickly when they view something as "good" or "bad". The constant driving home of this black and white thinking is yet another thing that wears on me about my job. I'm just plain tired of hearing it.

One of the reasons I was all about reading about Alchemy, was the pervading idea of reconciling opposites. I've seen it work in my own life, and in others. The idea has a very eastern bent to it- the yin and yang, the tao. These ideas fit in as a philosophy. The reconciliation is not easy though, when you've grown up in a world so polarized. It's conditioning that's hard to break.

And I think the thing that annoys me the most, is that I had been aware of the potential in me to actually see boths sides of something, and take the middle path, but so few others demonstrate the same interest or capacity. But see? Even in this statement I am still talking me vs THEM. The things outside of me. It's hard. But I'm willing to keep doing it even if it does make me the "outcast" because I'd rather be at home with myself than at war with something I never was.

I've been meditating on this quote for some time now, it's from Friar Lawrence's first soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. The Friar (an ambigious character) in this play is the mediator between the two lovers, and tempers their emotional teenage ping pongings with his careful plans to help them. He is also trying to unite two houses who are in mutual opposition to each other. He is the voice of moderation. You could say that even with all his good intentions that he failed because the lovers die. And in fact, that what he has done has brought this about. But he did achieve the reconciliation of the two houses, just not in the happy go lucky form that one would hope to expect. That the story ends in the death of the two lovers seems unavoidable to me, because death is change. Change, especially coming to two violently warring views, cannot come without some pain or discomfort.

Character studies aside, it's this speech that describes how I feel about things.

1 Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.
5 The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb;
What is her burying grave that is her womb,
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find,
Many for many virtues excellent,
10 None but for some and yet all different.
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities:
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give;
15 Nor aught so good but, strain'd from that fair use,
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.