Monday, April 2, 2012


Have you ever noticed that people with original thoughts and ideas (that don't conform or prescribe to the status quo) are branded as "Dangerous"?

Sometimes it takes all I have and more to keep my mouth shut before I tell them to take that derogatory term and stick it where the sun does not shine.

Got your ticket? It's time to go to the circus sideshow where the barker cries out, "Step right up! Step right up and see the World's Smallest Mind! You've never seen anything this small! With not a unique idea or revolutionary thought, it's the World's Smallest Mind! Look at how the small mind conforms! Watch how it trembles in fear! Look at how it refuses to accept new things! Watch as it spews intolerance! Step right up! Only two bits to see the World's Smallest Mind!" And the crowd rushes to pay their two bits, step inside the tent and go, "Oooooh, ahhhhh..."

It seems as I've been to the circus sideshow more times than I'd like to admit over the last several months because I've faced that derogatory term more times than I'd like to admit. It seems as every time I've turned around since childhood, my very avant-garde way of thinking has been called "dangerous." My enthusiasm is called "dangerous" and my efforts to selflessly help others is gaped at in shock. Trembling in fear and stupidity, they bring out the red-hot branding iron and sear the word "dangerous" into my skin, making it that much easier to be disrespectful toward me.

Well just tar and feather me then put me up on the "10 Most Wanted" list, I'm just so very dangerous. Go ahead, point at me and squeal in terror, "She's a non-conformist, run!!!" Oh yes, I'm just sooooo scary. *eyeroll* Riiiiight.

More often than not I've found that my ideas, and by extension me, being able to describe what the bottom-facing side of things look like as I'm rudely shoved away or swept under the carpet by someone else's stupidity, insecurities and/or mistrust. It astonishes me every time I am forced to sit back and watch as original thinking is feared, most of the time ignored and often sees the underside of rugs. I won't lie, it makes me sit at least once a day marveling at the lemming-like nature of society at large.

Today, while I was working, I happened upon this, take a look:

Jim Carroll (who by the way shares the same surname as the originator of my beloved Momeraths, Lewis Carroll), is right. There is always some (excuse my language) jackass just waiting, just begging, for their moment to say, "You can't do that because we've always done it this way." It's like them standing up and saying, "Care to jump off a cliff with me?" and to my utter dismay, I see people line up to plummet to their professional deaths.

But then there those rare, brave souls that dare to buck the status quo. (Oh how my Bernbachian nature and I love them.) A long time ago, I made a t-shirt for one of my avatars that said, "Just say NO to the status quo," joyfully reveling at the sight of conformists writhing in their seats who just couldn't bear to have an original thinker in their midst. I swear to you, I have watched with my hand over my mouth to keep from bursting out laughing as they poop bricks at the thought of someone with a unique idea in their head. Most of the time though, I just sit and shake my head, marveling at it with a standard "Wow. Really?" as my skin crawls, forcing me to sit speechless as I watch it happen.

I've never really been a good follower because I'm usually the one who sits back and goes, "And where in the hell do they think they're going, do they not realize that is a CLIFF they're marching towards?" I tell ya what, when I encounter mindless following like that, I just sit back amazed. Then I laugh, wave and watch them go flying off the cliff with a "Bye! See ya!" All kidding aside though, when I see things like that I know that it means less competition for me, but I just can't sit by and watch people fly off of the cliff when I know perfectly well that there are alternatives to following everyone else.

Please believe me, I spent 99% of my childhood intentionally wanting to be accepted into the lemming club! I did! I would have sold my soul for just one day, just for one taste, of acceptance as one of the lemmings. But I never got it. In hindsight though, I'm SO very glad I never got the invitation and never knew what it was like to be accepted. If I would have been welcomed into the lemming club, I would have been denied so very much. The places I've been, the people I've met, the experiences I've had that people only dream about, I would have never, ever had those had I been a lemming. It was my ability to be an original thinker, refusing to swim with the stream that set me apart. I refused early on to live a life of mediocrity in which I'd only punch out a couple of kids and try desperately to find Lithium-induced bliss in the suburbs, regretting I never did anything extraordinary. I'd rather live an extraordinary life branded as "dangerous" rather than go down like that.  Personally, I think Gloria Steinem would be proud.

After realizing how much lemming mentality costs the soul, it occurred to me that if I would have given up and not fought against conformity with all my heart for a single moment, I wouldn't be half of the person I am now. There is no glory for those who don't stand up and make it happen for themselves.

When I realize what I did by just "being different", it amazes me every time. If I would have trotted along behind everyone else, I can only imagine that my life would be filled with overwhelming regret thinking about all of the amazing experiences I would have never had.

I was no more than 10 when my Aunt Sissy looked at my mother and said, "There is nothing wrong with that girl, she just walks to the beat of her own drum." And look at me now, still beating that different drum and loving every minute of it. It is moments like this that you realize that we are all different for a reason and it's not dangerous — it's unique, it's beautiful, it's things that we don't even comprehend —  then comes the gut check: original thinkers like me are engaging in the things you always wished you could have done.

When you're left with nothing, all you have is a question in front of you..."What are you going to do about it?" When you go to change your life and have the courage to beat that different drum with all your heart until it's heard to the heavens, you are engaging in a little thing called "taking a risk."

What kills me, as Jim Carroll eluded to, is that people fear taking risks. They do! Look around at your friends, how many of them are truly what you would call a "risk-taker"? I'm not talking about adrenaline-junkie induced stunts like sky-diving or say riding a Harley 100 miles per hour down a road. That's not risk, that's just what some call stupidly pushing your body to its' limits, risking your life, not expanding your mind, coming up with a new idea or challenging yourself to think differently. I'm talking about real emotional risk; having the courage to do something or create something no one has never done before. I can promise you that out of 10, you might not even find one. I'm deadly serious! People fear risk, but only when we take risk do we gain the greatest rewards.

Instead of feeling like a Gordon Gekko-esque character saying "Risk is good", I'll illustrate my point.

Back in the day, when Apple was trying so hard to unseat IBM from the top of the technology industry, they made this commercial:

Now here's the scary part: Look around you. How many people have Apple product? How many of them do you see hooked into their i-whatever? iPad, iPod, iPhone ... I'm serious! Look around! You want to see how absurd it really is, come down to UNLV, sit in front of the bookstore at the Student Union and watch. Go to your local Apple store and take a look inside. iThis, iThat, and they all buy it up like it is made of gold, joining the countless millions who are happily blindfolded and walking off the nearest cliff. We have become a homogenous iSociety, then we wonder why there are so few unique movies coming out. We cry in anguish when we go to look for something unique and wonder why nothing is there! It's because the lemmings have taken over and are taking you with them.

BUT, here's the problem in all of it, we brand out-of-the-box thinkers as "Dangerous."

The word "dangerous" actually originates in the 15th century and the beginning of the Rennaisance. Joan of Arc was running around playing with the English, DaVinci was inventing the parachute, Guttenberg was inventing his famous press that without him we won't have another book to put on our shelves. But in all of that, what was so "dangerous" about the 15th century? I really want to find out, so I've put in an e-mail to my fave history professor to find out what was so incredibly daunting that would lead someone to coin the word "Dangerous."

But not happy with what I was finding, I went to the root of "dangerous" to the word "danger". Oh come on, who ever just did their best impersonation of Robby the Robot from Lost In Space, go to the fridge, pour yourself a glass of milk, then go to the cookie jar, grab up a handful of cookies and as a man at Shark Reef once dryly said as he produced a pacifier from his pocket and handed it to the crying child on his shoulders, "Put this in that." Quiet you!

Me personally, without going around and looking it up, I bet odds that it was the old Dark Ages thinkers that looked at everyone and said just what Jim Carroll said earlier, "You can't do that because we've always done it this way." It's creepy how history likes to repeat itself, isn't it? Eeek!

But then I did go and look it up. Danger, it seems, found it's way into the English language in the 13th century. Ok history buffs, what happened during the 13th century? Well, there's Dante and his Inferno...(remember me and Doc T going through that? As a reminder, do NOT read Dante's Inferno before bed, you will have some very scary, freaky-ass dreams if you do. Trust me!) But also, you guessed it, I was right, it was a part of the very backward (and very bane of my existence) Dark Ages.

When you have to use a Dark Ages word to describe a progressive thinker, you have to know in your heart there is something very wrong. Just the thought of "dark ages" and "progressive" in the same sentence should give you a clue, it is that very same contradiction that is inherent whenever we take an original idea and summarily flush it down the toilet.

Now just to give some frame to this, I want you to take a really good look at one of my idols, the great Bill Bernbach:

From 4:10 in:

"If you do things the way they were always done, you're not going to be very effective, because the essence of impact is saying things the way they've never been said before."

Yet we call those people "dangerous."

The Great Bill was the founder of the creative revolution. He is the reason why we no longer have to hear about just the attributes of something, instead we hear stories about a particular thing.

But now, in our very astringent politically correct society, a few people have gone beyond labeling original thinkers as "dangerous", now they're referred to as "innovative". Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and the like; they're all very "dangerous" men aren't they, and yet you sign up for Facebook by the millions and buy as much iWhatever as you can.

Let's go back to the Great Bill one more time for one last quote (from 6:36 in the video):
"I think all you can teach is knowledge, and knowledge you have to be concerned with, knowledge is a great thing to have, but knowledge per se means that that knowledge already exists and in that sense, it's the past. The only thing that can take you from knowledge into the future is an idea.”
The only thing that can take you from knowledge into the future is an idea.

And most of the time the people who come up with those ideas are labeled with just one derogatory word:


I'm going to take my dangerous backside and remember one thing, I don't have to take that label as derogatory, rather, I am going to take it as I always do, as a reminder that I'm different and different is GOOD.

I'd rather be different than march off the cliff with the rest of the lemmings.

Song of the day: The one I always play when faced with those who would settle for being mediocre, Conjure One featuring Poe, "Center of the Sun"

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