So many of us know that at some stage we reach a divide in the road. Go left, the uncommon path, the path of non conformity, positive deviance, misfit.
Go right, the path of the cultural trance. The one that has dictated what life is ‘supposed’ to be about. The job that may be OK but really leaves you searching for something else, where suddenly you find yourself buying stuff you don’t really need, going into debt with the house and car and all the trimmings, waking up so many years later wondering how the hell you got to this place….and along the way, to try to snuff out the deep sense of dissatisfaction that this is your life, you get addicted to spending, or alcohol, sex, sport, even health.
But the pain deep inside, that ache of knowing that some elemental aspect of self has not been expressed, this pain you cannot rub out. It is what wakes you at 2:23AM….It is like you have lost something precious, but you just don’t know what it is.
My mentor, Bucky Fuller, at age 32, chose the uncommon path. And in the clear choosing he set for himself a set of self disciplines, his boundaries to create the life he wanted to demonstrate was entirely possible. This was back in the early 1930’s. He lived a remarkable life. His legacy is beyond simple description.
Indeed, if you look at anyone who has lived a remarkable life…where their soul and spirit have remained intact…they chose the path of non conformity. The Misfit path. They define their life.
I remember clearly as a child when I first became aware of this choice in path. Someone was asking me not to feel about something that I wanted to feel. A dead bird….ants crawling over it…I wanted to pick it up and hold it and try to keep it warm. But was told that was dirty, and wrong. It was at this point I recognised that I had to fight hard to keep my life my life. I am not entirely sure I have succeeded. So much of the common path is seduction, spin and trance. We may not even have noticed we have slipped down that slope.
On Saturday night here on the Gold Coast we hosted the extraordinary AJ and Melissa Leon. This young couple are exemplars of life lived on their terms. They chose the uncommon path.
When I collected them from the airport the backpacks they had (carry on luggage) is what they own in life. And yet they have 8 full time staff around the world who collaborate in Misfits Inc, a design agency. AJ writes a wonderful blog, The Pursuit of Everything. Plus they host an annual event, a gathering of global misfits; curate and publish a collection of writings, poems and photography from mostly unheard of artists; have launched an apparel company -the Trendy Misfit, and are now on the global book tour. AJ and Melissa chose to be nomads. 20% of their time goes to non profit causes they feel passionate about.
Everything they do is crafted within their own self disciplines. The business models for their many enterprises is never the one you would expect. They are guided absolutely by their desire to define their own life. Their story is compelling. But greater than their story is the truth of their life lived. It is in the next step they choose. And the next. The certain integrity they demonstrate that life defined by self is entirely possible.
This commitment and courage is rare. And beautiful. They show us the place in ourselves that is barely alive and yearning to be expressed. And this is why we love them. They write their rules so we can know that we can write our own.
PS..download the interview I did with AJ December 2012. Its free. Also the more recent one here.