Friday, June 4, 2010
Be Remarkable. Wear Red.
“I heard Jesus He drank wine. I bet he’d understand a heart like mine.”
This will be simple and no vulgar language will be used in the making of my point.
When I was in second grade, my friends and I repeated a joke about assholes or some such profanity in art class. Like the delinquent, future ax-murderers that we were, we got sent to the principal’s office. And at the tender age of seven, I began both my study of profane language and my career in rocking the boat. Except the only lesson that I learned at the time, was that if you are going to engage in behavior that rocks the boat, you should go to great lengths to make it appear that you are not rocking the boat. And so began an eighteen-year sojourn to the pinnacle of perfection by pleasing others before myself.
And it worked. I was little miss 4.0, Phi Beta Kappa. I was fun without partying too hard, pretty without trying to hard and athletic without looking like a man. And then I snapped like a candied carrot. I returned to life before second grade and began, for the first time, living as I pleased. As a close friend recently said to me, “Kate, as long as you’re living life in a manner that’s acceptable to you, who cares what other people think or say about you.”
The problem is, people tend to get really freaked out when you don’t conform to their cookie-cutter image of whom you should be. Despite the fact that I am now happier, stronger and more solid than ever, people seem to think that I am lost and troubled because I have finally chosen to live life on my own terms, even if this means feeding my fancies for spontaneous travel and sucking every ounce of life from this too big, wonderful world. And because this is not what “they” say is the prescribed path, people raise eyebrows. Constantly. I’ve become so used to raised eyebrows in my presence that I’ve begun to wonder if the entire world is now face-lifted and Botoxed.
And despite the fact that I was entirely miserable when I lived for the 4.0 GPA and Co., everyone seemed to think I was a fabulous representation of what every young woman should aspire to. I was conforming, getting goods grades and for God’s sake, at least I didn’t curse. Never mind the fact that I regularly contemplated what it would be like to swallow an entire bottle of Excedrin PM and never wake up for school again.
And now, even though I am still intelligent, capable and by all measures, on my way to a very successful life, I am lost and troubled. I have the guts to actually say the things, and do the things, others only think about. And I don’t fit the mold. So I must be off track. Even though I feel more on track than ever before. So rather than admit that my ideas might have some merit, folks shut them down as crazy and insane so that they don’t have to face their own fears, regrets, desires and truths. I am not certain if these illogical criticisms come from jealously (either of the life I live, or of the guts I have to say things that others only think) or from true offense. And if the latter proves correct, then by all means, feel free to cease and desist all reading of my blog at once. I never aim to offend. And I would presume that no one would have any interest in the life of someone whom they find offensive.
Alternatively, if you are jealous of my life or guts, I suggest you try it on for size. I say the truthful things that people often cringe to hear. I hold up the mirror and say, “Look, this is you and this is the world we all live in. Warts and all. Learn to love it. Learn to laugh at the absurdity of it. Stretch it to it’s extreme. And when you get to that edge jump off. And learn to fly.” And some people abhor this. They are reluctant to see the truth in their own actions. They cringe to admit that they actually do think many, if not all, of the things that I write. And they are terrified that it might actually be possible to grab life by the horns and live it on one’s own terms.
And if you’d like to see troubled and lost I can show you people addicted to heroin, meth and coke (none of which I’ve ever even seen). I can show you people who have indiscriminate sex with random people in an attempt to fill the hole in their soul (something I’ve never done). I can show you the abused and the abusers, the dropouts, the users, the rehabbers, the cutters and the suicidal. These are the troubled and lost. But they are excellent people with fabulous stories and they don’t deserve the eyebrows-raised title of “troubled and lost.” Because like all of us, they are just doing the best they can, with what they’ve got and they’re trying to find their way in this wild world.
I conclude by offering fashion advice. It’s difficult to wear red to a funeral where “they” inform us that we are supposed to wear only black. It will get you noticed and talked about. Eyebrows will surely raise and many will look down their long, thin noses at you. They will ask, aghast, “What will people think?” But it makes a point. And it points out the truth of the occasion. That, like life, death should not be so somber and serious. Rather it should be celebrated, laughed about and experienced fully because, after all, it’s the ultimate expression of the only life we’ve got. What’s the point in crying (or being serious) when you might laugh instead? Perhaps, if we let others live the lives of their choosing, and started living a life of our own choosing, the world would be more fun.
At my funeral, anyone wearing black will be turned away. Be remarkable. Wear red.