Living Like Hercules
MARCH 6, 2017
I was at the coffee shop yesterday and I saw a child acting on his own accord.
He had a rainbow painted on his forehead and his dad was calling him Hercules. And Hercules didn't give a shit what people thought. At least not yet.
At one point he just took his shirt off for no apparent reason. The baristas loved him. His dad had dyed blonde hair and a cheetah print coat and shoes. Some people probably looked at them in disgust. Others, probably a minority, thought they should be applauded.
Living your own life.
It's the theme I come back to again and again.
Because the amount of unlearning necessary to do actually this is daunting.
And most won't cheer you on until you've broken through. And even then you might not get applause.
It starts with all of the ways they try and organize you.
Every label applied along the way in your life creates boundary lines for you to fall into. We're given a mental picture of where you should fit, and if you break from that, you’re shunned.
They give you an age, and they tell you to act it.
When you go to school you're put into a grade. A cohort that you're told to fit in with so that everyone goes at the same pace, regardless of progress. In your grade you're expected to play only to the level of that grade. So play only at the top, the middle or the bottom. Never beyond, or outside.
They hold you to this by giving you grades. Based on pre-existing standards for what success is supposed to mean and look like. Based on the tests they deem important. To hit standards measured against the rest of students put through that system.
And the world keeps changing but has the curriculum caught up? Unlikely...
And they give you myths and idols. Real and invented. Barbies and Superman. Standards set by TV, media and religion for which to follow. Impossible standards set by our culture to work to live up to.
And now these idols have an even better way to keep score, by listing the number of friends or connections or likes they collect publicly for all of us to see.
We fit into the boundaries given to us if we accept them. The problem is it cannot be the case that we all fit into such regimented boxes. No one person is like the other. We can all be ourselves if we wish to be. It's just so hard to actually allow yourself to live the way you choose.
You have to do the hard work of picking it all over again for yourself. Finally.
This is the joy of growing your experiences in life. You begin seeing other options other than the ones given to us. You learn from other examples of those who have carved out their own path. You decide more of which dogmas to keep and which ones to throw out.
Picking your own metrics for success. Pick what is cool or fun or valuable or useless. And actually living with it.
At some point I wonder if Hercules will change his name.
Maybe just a few years from now.
Because the system will do that to him.
And then later in life, maybe he'll adopt it again. Once he's more comfortable.
Once he realizes that he strayed from himself for no reason other than it was what was expected...