The older I get, the more appealing a little craziness appears to me. I'm not talking about whacked out psychosis, but something milder – in the immoral, illogical, illicit, or ill-understandable sphere of strangeness.
Stuff that soothes a person's far out! soul, while making others question why he or she is marching out of the beat of the ordinary.
I'm not religious. However, there are aspects of religiosity that fill the crazy bill. Of course, theologically every religion is certifiably nuts. Intellectual or conceptual craziness isn't a positive sort of far out-ness.
On the other hand, when I watch TV and see church-goers dancing in the aisles, waving their hands in the air, praising Jesus with huge smiles on their faces – now that is weird enough to make me say "right on."
In general, though, religions discourage eccentric individualism. That's strange, given that the major figures of every religion, plus revered mystics of many varieties, thought and acted in decidedly unconventional ways.
Once spirituality becomes institutionalized, believers are expected to toe the dogmatic line and express their exuberance for life within well-defined bounds. You can do this, but not that. Intuitive feelings of right and wrong are repressed in favor of what a holy book or ecclesiastical hierarchy demands.
Sad. We lose a lot when we give up our personal passions.
I admire people who go their own way, regardless of how others view them. Eric, a childhood friend who was older than me, had a marvelous collection of surplus British Army and Navy uniforms (World War II vintage). He'd be seen riding his bike down the street, wearing a plumed "Bengal Lancer" helmet, whipping his rear fender with a riding crop.
At an early age he taught me the value of eccentricity. Which is a loaded word, because what's strange to other people is absolutely normal to the supposed "eccentric."
The way I see it, something in us longs to be way out there. There's also a part of us that likes to curl up with safe and sane conformity. Honoring both sides of ourselves, allowing each to come out and play naturally, seems to be key to living life happily and fully.
Summer is motorcycle/scooter time here in Oregon. I had a motorcycle for a while about a dozen years ago. Now I'm lusting after a maxi-scooter, being much more of a Suzuki Burgman than a Harley Davidson guy.
I ponder the pros and cons of getting around on two highly motorized wheels. When I had my motorcycle, just about everybody had a story about someone getting killed or maimed on one (many tales, though, were along the lines of "this dude I know drank a couple of six packs, then got on his bike and was going 110 mph when he hit a parked car…" – much more an indictment of stupidity than motorcycles).
Sure, motorcycles and scooters are dangerous. Yet it's even riskier to go through life without living it the way you want to. Trusting that after death you'll have another chance at happiness is how religions play the game, but it's a bet with a high probability of going bust.
Older people often turn exceedingly cautious, adoring routine. But since they have fewer years left to live, they should be the ones out there on the edge, since there's less to lose if they fall off.
There's all kinds of ways to embrace your inner crazy. Jumping on a high-powered scooter might turn out to be one way I do it. However, everybody has their own I've always wanted to…. that's never been gotten around to.
When? That's the question.
When are we going to answer the call of our own self? When will we choose to ride the desire-horse that has been chomping on its bit, ready to gallop? When is our inner sense of what's right for us going to overwhelm the "No, don't!" coming from the world outside?
When?[Update: for a good example on the Oregon coast of what I'm talking about, check out my HinesSight post about Aunt Mary's -- a unique purveyor of vegan food and porn.]