This Is Your Sanity Prescription
They all say freedom is at the end. But freedom is at the beginning.
Two posts by others in the span of one week addressed a similar issue in different ways. With the second post, just today, I found myself wanting to rip out my hair. Because the confusion I witnessed was just so goddammed unnecessary.
The posts do not matter. The issue is knowing who you are.
Some people don’t.
For the longest time, I didn’t.
Some of us are not lucky enough to be have been born to parents with a large view of life. Some of us are born into families and neighborhoods where the biggest ambition is to be able to fill your belly and be grateful for having attained that basic goal.
Part of me really wants to rip into that, berating that narrow field of vision, but those people have been formed by their own experiences, their own disappointments, and even their own lack of ambition. The problem is that they pass that onto others as what is normal.
We are not educated to inquire. We are educated to conform.
There is no “normal.”
“Christ,” Dickie muttered, scratching his greasy hair with the end of a ballpoint pen. “Another eccentric. What is this, are there more eccentrics these days or just fewer normal people?”
“There never have been normal people. It’s a myth,” I said as I reached under the sofa cushions looking for an antidepressant I might have dropped while I was opening the bottle. “Listen, Dickie, there are just crazy people and statisticians. Of course, there is some overlap.”
— The Music of What Happens by John Straley; pg. 25-26
Must I do the cliche thing and trot out the “crazy” to hammer home the point? Apple based an entire ad campaign on that theme!
I’m not saying other people of the same type of mind will rise to their prominence. What I am saying is that it’s critically important for one’s own life to recognize being one of them.
I flailed for years and years not fitting into any corporate pigeonhole. Not understanding what was happening when Me encountered Them. They — to use that alienating term — are, for varying reasons, different than Us. That in no way makes them better than us — or us better than them. (Let me kill that poisonous Ayn Randian notion right now.)
But what happens on Our end is that We are made to feel deficient or defective or malfunctioning or — even — crazy.
Well, in three short words: Fuck. That. Shit.
It wasn’t until about ten years ago I was pushed to read a book I’d heard about but never had the impetus to investigate. It was, as Gulley Jimson said when he gazed upon a painting that opened up new artistic vistas for him, something that skinned my eyes. It was to me a religious experience. That book is my Bible.
It’s now the cornerstone of my Standard Sanity Prescription for people who don’t know who they are.
This is the prescription:
The Outsider by Colin Wilson
Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison
The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness Controversy by Arnold M. Ludwig
Limbo: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano
I’m not providing links for the books because I want you to do some minor work to investigate them.
But don’t click around and have them filtered through the eyes of others (one description I’ve just looked at of The Outsider is frighteningly misleading). Read them for yourself.
In fact, just frikkin buy them. You’ll want to keep them.
The Outsider is my Bible. I saw myself on just about every page of that book.
Limbo is essential if you come from that socioeconomic background and might also be otherwise useful if you did not.
This, it seemed to me, is the basic difference between human beings. Some are perfectly satisfied with what they have; they eat, drink, impregnate their wives, and take life as it comes. Others can never forget that they are being cheated; that life tempts them to struggle by offering them the essence of sex, of beauty, of success; and that she always seems to pay in counterfeit money.
— The Outsider; Twenty Years Later addendum, by Colin Wilson
Know who you are and no one, no thing can conquer you.
Forces of containment
They shove their fat faces into mine
You and I just smile
Because we’re thinking the same lines
— “I Like You” by Morrissey
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