Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Don’t Want My Life to Be Normal

I’ve been called many things in my life: odd, shy, asshole, weird, patient, emotional, quirky, romantic, cold, smart, a good friend, sensitive, insensitive, curious, stubborn, a tight ass, cool, a fool, selfish, giving, husband, a good lover, average, boring, judgmental, open and tolerant, secure, insecure, stable, unusual.  All of those descriptors have been accurate at various points in my life, but the one that has impacted me the most was only spoken (written, actually) once and not until 2009 and by someone who did not know me very well yet: a free spirit.  Me?  A free spirit?

For much of my life, my self-impression was that of a shy, sensitive, odd, quirky man who is sensitive yet insensitive, curious, average and quiet, a fairly boring person living a fairly interesting but abnormal life.  I always felt I was living on other people’s agendas and up to or down to their expectations.  In other words, anything but a free spirit.  Yet after hearing that from a new and fairly observant friend, I started to wonder if I’ve had more control on my life and attitudes than I gave myself credit for.
All these thoughts swam in my head as I walked three blocks to my neighborhood Starbucks to get a cup of coffee this morning.  I replayed the past few weeks and realized that my life is anything but boring.  ‘Normal’ people don’t usually get to do or allow themselves to do some of the things that are almost routine in my life.

I spent a lot of my life trying to conform to a norm of some sort but when viewed as a whole, my life has been anything but normal so far.  I talk, write and edit audio for a living.  Normal?  I’ve lived at twenty six addresses in six metropolitan areas in five states.  Normal?  I’ve been married three times, engaged two other times and had at least two additional serious relationships with women.  Normal?  I like blues, country, rock, big band swing and classical.  Art museums and NASCAR.  Old Bogart movies and the Weather Channel.  Oceans, lakes and rivers but I can’t swim.  I’ve given speeches, introduced bands and narrated sky-diving shows in front of crowds ranging from a few hundred to 40,000 but am sometimes nervous speaking in a conference room with ten people.  Normal?
Yet everything I just described is completely normal for me.  I choose to do those things, choose to like what I like and dislike what I dislike, pick my friends carefully and my close friends even more carefully.  Sometimes I adopt behaviors, hobbies and interests of friends and acquaintances, making it seem like I’m trying to impress them or appear like I don’t have my own interests; but what I am doing is trying new things.  Some I will continue and some I won’t.  That all seems to make me a free spirit.  Dig deep enough into my psyche and you discover that I am a man who does chart my own path.  A free spirit.

I’ll try new things and get out of my comfort zone, but I have limits.  Sometimes it seems like I have no boundaries but if that’s how you view me then you are in my inner circle, because most people see me as a living, walking fence.  I see myself as a small boat afloat in choppy waters, moving here and there but always tethered to a sturdy anchor.  The further along I get in my self-discovery journey the longer the tether; but the tether is always there.
Being on my own for the first time in eighteen years is in itself an example of a free spirit demanding and getting his freedom.  I don’t really have to answer to anyone when it comes to doing what I want to do.  That part of me never went away but it was so controlled for nearly two decades that I barely remembered it existed.  I did do my own quirky things during that time but I often had to explain or justify or feel embarrassed about my choices.  I love to share but I do not want to be controlled.

A free spirit needs to be free.  I am free and will continue to be free, on as many levels as I can.  And I will help my friends to do the same.  I especially thank the friend whose two-word observation pointed out something to me about me that I had not realized before.  It nearly changed my life.
I do not want my life to be normal by anyone else’s definition of normal.  I have my own normal and I’m just fine with that.

2 comments:

Linda V. said...

I was called a free spirit by my sister-in-law. I laughed because I felt the same way you do about it. But now, being married and having to remember there is someone else my actions affect really does tamp down that adventurous streak I loved about my life. Will I ever get it back? Not without sacrificing a big part of my life. However, I am trying to introduce that free spirit to my hubby...maybe, just maybe, we can be free spirits together. We'll see. Love you!

Bernie said...

Good luck. I was never able to find that balance.