Recently I’ve been contemplating the nature of the square peg and in particular what that means on a personal level for people. Every time I hear John Mellencamp’s song Minutes to Memories I’m reminded of what it’s like to be an individual, there is a line in the song, “I do things my way and I pay a high price.” I think it’s sad that the world works that way, but it always has, ask any artist, any freak, anyone you know who doesn’t fit society’s definition of normal, average, boring.
Those of us in these categories often have to struggle in the default world; and because we don’t fit the mode of the other people around us, we are quickly judged. People take their first perceptions and then expand that perception into their view of us. This view becomes their filter, a filter they use to taint every single action and interaction you have with them. That allows them to turn you into, in their mind, whoever they had already decided you were regardless of the reality. To them a tattooed biker can never be kind and gentle, people in non-traditional relationships, (poly or gay), can’t truly love or be married, environmentalists can’t care about economics or vice-versa, and religious people,(at least not of their faith), can never be wrong or cruel.
These people, particularly the weakest and frailest among them will use this image and the systems that rule the default world to attack you, to try and destroy you. They do this primarily out of fear, out of the fear of your difference. Because difference scares them, it destroys their illusions that there is a confined set of rules of how things work. Because if you are different and you can be happy, successful, then everything they believe in is at jeopardy and they can’t risk that, because they have nothing else but their confined set of rules and their limited view of the world.
Those of us who fit the bill of odd, eccentric or the ever so polite label of “interesting,” are often left searching for ways and places to feel comfortable and safe. This is one of the reasons the Burning Man Festival is so amazing. It is one of those safe, comfortable places, for just about everyone, it is a place so full of the unique that no one judges. A place where it is safe to let your freak flag fly because you are never the biggest, or the only freak in your field of vision. It’s ok, to be whoever you are, whatever you are, because without others judging there is no shame or guilt about who you are. In the desert, on the Playa there is no limited set of confined rules to determine what is good or right. In my opinion, life the way it should be, for one brief week each year, the way it should be.
Finally, honestly, I would love to ask the default world as a whole, have you ever considered it, ever really thought about and wondered, how damn boring this world would be without us? I don’t think you have.