Sunday, January 12, 2014

Good Morning Jacob...

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 12 January

Genius can afford to be eccentric

Good Morning Jacob…

The sun doesn’t rise unless there’s someone there to see it.  You can’t ignore a big production and expect it to take place without the fanfare of appreciation, even if it’s only a birdbrain rooster clearing its throat.  That’s the way the universe works.  Prove me wrong if you don’t believe it.  Could you hand me that?  I believe it’s my drink.

I was beyond remembering the night before.  Whatever happened never took its required place in my memory.  Once I awoke the following morning the first thing I did was go to the window and see if my car was there.  Was it in one piece?  And what of the people I made myself known to the prior evening?  I should prepare my apologies, whatever they might need to be.  I could have done or said most anything imaginable.  My sober mind would have cringed at my insulting and boorish manner, but drunk, I would have considered my remarks stringently witty, if not downright welcomed for being so obviously necessary.

I put down the drink a long time ago and the chaos of my life has been lifted but the nature of my personality remains fiercely intact.  It’s just better caged.  That’s good enough for me.  I’m not working on changing who it is I am.  It would be like substituting someone else’s version of life for mine and I don’t see that a winning point.  We respect others while remaining true to our essential nature.  People aren’t required to accept our authentic selves but we do ourselves a favor by limiting our real friendships to those that truly know us.  We tend to the business of living our life as best we can and leave to society how they choose to value our contribution. 

Governments are always busy mediating the boundaries that protect individual rights while ensuring the stability of society.  Culture, history and contemporary context all help determine the extent of our freedom to pursue our desires and promote our beliefs.  We make ourselves known, letting others observe and judge for themselves the validity of our chosen practices.  Unless the spirit of the individual is repressed this scenario will make for a noisy affair.  The many conflicting points of view will be passionately debated.  What we have created in a healthy society is a marketplace of individual ideas endlessly seeking validation.

How annoying it can be to hear so many arguments for ways of living that go against my own common sense.  I smother my outrage.  It’s quite apparent to me the life I’ve chosen for myself has very little appeal for the vast majority of the people around me.  Should I take offense to this?  Why?  Fortunately we are not all shaped from the same cookie cutter.  A society made exclusively of people like me would soon starve.  My attitudes and skills are at best a fringe benefit to the population of this tribe.  There is need for very few people like me.  But it is good that I am represented because I believe diversity is fundamental to human success.   Look at all the niches human society fills.  We didn’t get to where we are by practicing herd behavior. 

We all have traits clearly meant for us and they do not transfer well to those we know.  This has a lot to do with what it means to be human.  Not everything about us is admirably polished on close examination.  We have our quirks.  They can be surprisingly useful.  Every individual known to history has oddities that are familiar to all.  They may seem laughable at times but I suspect our peculiarities are often unrecognized contributors, instrumental in making for brilliant and heroic acts.


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