By Deb Avery
Every since I can remember I have felt different.
Call it weird, peculiar or just down right awkward, it’s that slightly uncomfortable feeling of being out of place or just not fitting in.
Before the internet and social media, life could be pretty strange and lonely for those of us with these feelings, and no place was worse than the small town I grew up in and the surrounding regions. You see, I was born a Southerner with a very open heart and mind.
The open heart part worked well until it involved being loving and accepting of people who, like me, were also weird or different. You see, that just didn’t set well with all the conforming and narrow mindedness of that time and place. The open mind part just did not work well at all.
I constantly felt like a expat from Pluto and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t fit in.
I remember when the phrase “Don’t open your mind so much that your brain falls out” became so popular several years ago. It was on all the church signs, preachers sermons and bulletins for miles around for way longer than was tolerable.
I’ve always been one of those to ask, “What, How, Why and Where?” What if we did things this way? How do you know that? Why can’t we do it this way? Or, the really big one: Where did God come from?
You know, all those little questions that drive traditionalist and the ultra-conservatives crazy.
Instead of taking traditions, religion, or most anything really at face value, I set out upon a lifetime quest of seeking, asking and learning. Often my knowledge was learned the hard way. Which is to say, I know a whole lot of reasons why things don’t work. Other times I found luck with just the right information at just the right time.
Some questions I am still seeking today.
It’s good to have values, beliefs and theories. We must have an point from which to start—a home base or an intelligent set of core ideas. If we didn’t have an anchoring source in life we would just wander from place to place with no goals, maps or ways of reaching a destination.
However, as Tolkien once stated so eloquently, “Not all who wander are lost.”
And he was right. Truer words were never spoken. A lot of those who wander are merely seeking answers to life’s important questions while enjoying the journey along the way. And while we’re at it we try to solve some of the more minor riddles as well. For instance, “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” I’ve yet to solve that one. Probably never will.
But I digress. My point is simply this: It’s not bad to be different. It’s good. Really, it is.
Being different is actually a blessing in disguise. And as I’ve gotten older I have realized that those of us who are weird and different are some of the best people you could ever hope to meet. We certainly make life more interesting.
Life reveals a lot to those who wander and seek, those who see things a bit differently. Those with open minds and big hearts. We experience life deeply and we see more brilliance and beauty in this multifaceted universe than most.
So my fellow weird people, lift your smiling faces to the sun and let your brilliance shine forth, showering multicolored sparkles on a monochromatic world.
This world needs us. We need each other.
Now, more than ever.
Editor: Dana Gornall