As I slip further outside of the traditional view of what adult life and norms should be, I encounter more and more people that would be referred to by many as characters. The type of characters, that have the fantastical stories, that add color to a dinner party conversation or you tell your friends over a few beers about this person you know, and all awe at the lifestyle they lead. As my life path changes, a lot of personal reflection time has been added into my daily routine without consciously thinking about it.
With this personal reflection time comes realizations and truths. Once we are focused to look at ourselves we start to see, maybe we aren’t as compassionate as we think we are. Maybe we aren’t as accepting of others as we could be. We judge others too much and too harshly when really these judgments are only reflections of our own insecurities. It is true we all could probably be more compassionate, more loving, more accepting, and less judgmental. This I know to be true. It is only now that my own life is one of which others may judge that my own judgments on other peoples lives become more apparent.
Who am I or anyone else to say that one human is better than another. Is the person with the brand new house and all it’s gadgets better than the friend who lives in a teepee, or the other friend who lives out of her RV? Why is it we are so quick to judge those who decide to venture down a different path from our own? We see someone dressed differently from the norm and say, “wow look at them that’s so weird”. But are they truly the weird ones or are we for doing the same as every other person around us.
We look at the child who has picked out there own outfit, the one full of die tie, plaid, and in a variety of colors and find amusement in their individuality. However, when we are adults we see another adult dressed a similar outfit and wonder if they got dressed in the dark. We call them a freak or wonder what motivates them to be so outlandish. But are they really that outlandish? What happen to self-expression, does it die as we grow older. We are told throughout our lives there are rules, written and unwritten we must follow to be a proper adult. But who made the rules, the traditions, the norms, who is to say we can’t make our own rules!
I look around at my friends, a much different set of friends than I had four or five years ago. Many of them are far outside the norm, working in jobs not because it is advancing them up a corporate ladder, but because they went a different direction and followed a passion. What if we all followed our passions in life instead of worrying about the money we make. As I watch my friends straying from the prescribed path, I see most of them living a rich life, not in wealth but in experience. They put happiness first, some live very comfortable lifestyles while others live more Spartan. Whether they have several homes, or live in a small room, they are all living life to the fullest.
It may sound like I have a bunch of hippie friends who don’t work and just run races, or do something else. However, these friends are some of the hardest working people I know. They work hard not because they have to and someone tells them to, but because if you are following your passion all of a sudden a 12-14 hour workday doesn’t seem bad if you love it. I am reminded of Alan Watts who questioned people in a speech, “what would you do if money didn’t matter”. He goes on to talk about what would you do with your life if that was taken out of the equation. It’s a powerful statement that I talk with many athletes I have worked with and friends in the last couple of years. I have seen a pattern over and over again of people who have figured out the answer to that question, then set off the find they can make their answer into a reality.
These tend to be the people we envy, that ugly green emotion, when we hear about their lives. These tend to also be the people who live more on the fringe, the ones with the expressive outfits, hair, tattoos, makeup, and lifestyles. The ones who have dumped it all to live in a station wagon with their dog and take photographs instead of sitting in a corporate office. Or the ones who took a new idea and turned it into a multimillion dollar company, because they say something when the rest of us could not.
It seems to be time for us to collectively look around us and look within us. Are we too quick to judge those around us because they are different from us. Just because we don’t understand their life choices doesn’t mean they are wrong. Through my own personal reflections I have found that the more compassionate, less judgmental, and more accepting I am the happier life is. Take people for who they are, not what they look like and I promise life will be less stressful. Judgment causes stress! I am by no means perfect, no one is, but work to add more compassion for others into my life, and listen as my boyfriend tells me to embrace my friends who have strayed further from the norm, and celebrate them for have the courage to be their own person. Because at the end of the day we are all just people, living our lives breath to breath, and experiencing life in our own unique ways.