The thing about the human experience is that the amount of “acceptable”
ways to live your life are so few. And among those few ways to live your life,
there is very little variance. It would not be “acceptable,” for instance,
to pack all your things today and move to a deserted island. Your family would
not accept it, most of your friends would not accept it, society would not accept it
at large. It would not be acceptable to decide you want to live the rest
of your life in your bedroom. It would not be acceptable to decide you want
to move a remote village in Western China, have a garden, and tend to it.
It would not be acceptable, as a 36 year old who’s generally had fairly
mainstream interests, to decide you want to devote the rest of your life
to playing “World of Warcraft.” It would not be acceptable to decide you never
want to work again and to become voluntarily homeless. Or to move to a nudist colony,
or a hippy commune, or to live with a group of people who don’t use any tool
invented after the stone age (these groups of people exist).
So as long as you pick something that’s not too much of a departure from
the norm, you’re OK. Once you pick a path that’s “acceptable” (dentist, doctor, lawyer,
mechanic, accountant, baseball player, cafe owner, carpenter, contractor,
taxi driver, municipality worker, teacher, administrative assistant, etc) you then have
a LITTLE wiggle room when it comes to being yourself, but not much. Indeed,
things that are slightly eccentric (like being really into the Japanese animation “manga”)
are celebrated as “quirky” or “fun” even if people don’t REALLY understand
or identify with them. But things that are WAY off the beaten path, that people
don’t understand at all (devoting your entire life to Joe DiMaggio’s left thumb fingernail
or recreational coughing) are just considered weird and therefore shunned.
In other words, be creative, but not TOO creative. Go off the rails a bit,
but don’t fly away.
It then follows that to produce something that is truly revolutionary, one of a kind, you MUST lead a life that is different from what’s “accepted,” and your interests MUST be so far off the beaten path that no one but you and maybe a select other few appreciate/understand.
Trust me, when someone asks you what your passion is, and you tell them and they kind of tilt their heads to the side, or make some polite excuse to leave shortly after you’ve explained it, that’s a GOOD thing. You don’t want people to understand why you love what you love. If you’re at a dinner party and JOE DICK comes up to you and asks what you do in your work and
what you do in your free time, and more importantly “WHY?” (though he would never ask that), and he can IDENTIFY with your answer, you’re in for a world of hurt. Or a world of banality, which is essentially the same thing. But if JOE DICK comes up to you and asks
what you do for fun and you say, “I’m obsessed with studying the thickness of various bread loaf slices,” and he kind of laughs and makes a quick retreat, you’ve won in a way you can’t even fathom.
99.8% of people spend their lives living other people’s lives. In a way, it’s in our nature.
We don’t want to stray too far from the pack. But we’re not a herd of wildebeest.
We’re not a troop of Macaks (sp?), despite our genetic resemblance. Beavers build dams because it’s genetically coded into them to produce iteration after iteration, dam after dam, for their entire lives. But we have the extraordinary ability to learn new things,
to forge paths that are ancestors never went down. To be revolutionary in our acts and our thoughts.
And so why do so many people insist on going down the same path?