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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Spiritual Advantages of...

Being Different

Anyone who lives in her own world is crazy. Like schizophrenics, psychopaths, maniacs. I mean people who are different from others...On the other have Einstein, saying there was no time or space, just a combination of the two. Or Columbus insisting on the other side of the world lay a continent, not an abyss. Or the Beatles, who created an entirely different sort of music and dressed like people from another time. Those people—and thousands of others—all lived in their own world.”
Paulo Coelho—Veronika Decide Morir—Tapa Azul

Are you different? Do you find it difficult to follow the crowd? Are you out of step with the times? Great! You're in good company. This is not an indictment of people who keep up with the times—we need them to define exactly what the times are. Otherwise, how would we know we're out of step. Truth is we all have our own value systems and motivations for being who we are. Some of us want to reflect a certain charisma, a particular standard, that's common to those of our chosen community. We want to fit in and be welcomed as “one of us.” Some of us find that sort of conformity suffocating. And some, are simply iconoclasts, who would rather die than have any communion with the collective. We need those too, though we give them a wide berth.

Being different is a good thing. There was a segment on the news last night about a young man, Mikey Brannigan, who's competing at the Paralympics in Rio. He's a runner who happens to have autism. His speech was difficult, but when asked whether autism had made him a better runner, he responded, “No, a better person.” He won the gold medal in the 1500 meter race.

Being different has some disadvantages, of course. It's lonely, for one. It's very hard for people who are truly different to make themselves conform to the norms of society, and therefore they often live on the fringe. As with Einstein, communicating one's ideas and findings may leave others in the dark. It may take decades for them to understand. But we're not all Einsteins, and sometimes being different is just painful.

The great advantage to being different is being true to self. It is living your own life, and not someone else's idea of who you should be. If one can get comfortable being on the fringe of things, and putting the energy it would take to be part of the collective into being authentically creative and individual, there is no telling what might come of it. You might even make a genuine contribution to the collective that changes the direction of consciousness—like Joseph Campbell, or Leonard Cohen, or Bill Gates, or Mahatma Gandhi, or....

                                                           In the Spirit,


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