I was seventeen years old when I made my first acquaintance with the word
I was reading a fashion magazine in my school library, and was initially attracted to pictures of hippy-ish women, half-naked, silver ringed, long haired and pretty much hauntingly gorgeous.
My heart refused to be still.
The article painted a wordy picture about unconventional lifestyles, rebellious tendencies and wandering souls.
I wanted to crawl into the magazine. I had found my tribe!
Here was the antidote to the conservative, restrictive, bloody well boring life I had been living. I wanted to give in to the strong feeling within my soul that I was not the person my parental circumstances dictated to me.
I had distinct memories of my early life in Europe where gypsies were part of the tapestry of village life. No wonder the images in the magazine had struck such a familiar cord. My soul longed for the path that ran somewhat askance of the ordinary.
My fascination with the written word offered me many glimpses into the Bohemian lifestyle as years went by. I’ve never recovered from the pull towards the unorthodox.
To give you a very brief history about the word itself, “Bohemian” first appeared in the English language during the 19th century and described artists of every variety (painters, actors, musicians, dancers, writers) who within their own like-minded, often impoverished community lived as much against the grain of conventional European society as possible.
Concentrating in the lower rent neighborhoods, they became part of the Bohemien—the term used in France for the vibrant Romani people who were thought to have reached France from Bohemia in the 15th century, which may or not be the true historical case, but that I’ll leave for another day.
A more affluent circle of bohemians in France were termed the “haute boheme.”
Since then, “Bohemian” has become a synonym for devilishly interesting.
The word is defined in The American College Dictionary as, “a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behavior.”
It’s funny how many ways we find to squelch the fire within ourselves. Even though I had found my spark in that library—and other libraries like it—life and its idiosyncrasies wove a path of least resistance upon my soul.
There were a lot of years when I pretended that I was someone I was not. Conforming, although unnatural to me, still happened. To a degree. Here and there, looking back, I see flashes of my rebelliousness, and while they were struggles at the time, I can see where in my life I was most authentic.
Is your heart pounding with an intense desire to express what’s wild and uncontainable within you?
Have you always known that you were a Bohemian deep down, but being responsible kept you from breaking bonds with conventional society?
Are rebellious thoughts and dreams and colorful imaginings stirring your soul?
Want to take a leap of faith into your most artistic, Bohemian, free-spirited incarnation?
Do it! There is only today. If not now, then when? Can you even stand another minute of denying your incomparable self?
Refuse to Conform.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern and follow along as we were handed a prescription for life at birth.
A Bohemian carves her own path. She will not be told that there is a way things have always been done. She will be the black sheep of the family. She will be the one who breaks the mold and shines a light onto new ways of being.
We’ve been told that rebellion is bad. Rebellion will result in heartache. Listening to the call of the Pied Piper leads to disaster. What rubbish.
Nothing changes unless it changes. Be the one who dreams about the impossible. There is, in fact, no such thing as impossible.
Challenge conventional thought. Question everything. Come to your own conclusions. Rake through politics, social standards and religious dogmas, and shake up the world with new ideas.
Don’t sit on the fence—you will chap your bum!
All forms of unconventional thought can still cling to the good. Respect for all life must be at the center of change. You won’t be accused of being boring when you plant a guerilla garden in your town. But you might feed someone who’s hungry.
Release the Free Spirit Within.
Releasing the Wild One is not for the faint of heart. There will be resistance from family, friends and society at large.
Read. Read your little a** off. Learn about what stirs you. Feed your soul with poetry and prose. Fill your life with books and art that turn the key to the cage that’s kept you captive. Drink the nectar of the written word.
Read newspapers and articles that open your mind to the point of bursting. Learn about injustices, fight the good fight.
Be mindful in your thoughts and your deeds. Take a walk off the precipice of what’s unfair in this world.
Only you can do what you came here to do.
Be a Wanderer of Places and Lifestyles.
“All good things are wild, and free.It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Cut some ties. Bohemians often loosen the bonds of whatever or whomever keeps their soul from flying. Leave what is stifling the peace you are seeking, and strike out on your own road.
Want to get rid of your internet?
Move from B.C.’s rainforest to the dessert?
Throw your cell phone in a lake? (Not environmentally sound, but you get my meaning.)
Give half your possessions to those who need it more than you?
Live in a tiny home? Un-school your kids?
Live the simple life like Thoreau?
Travel to every freakin’ place that calls your name with no return ticket home?
Grow organic food? Plant a forest?
Choose to cut negative people from your life—even if you’re related to them?
Walk away from a life that has no meaning to you any longer?
Vote for someone with integrity?
Unplug your T.V.?
Fall in love with more than one person?
Think like Twain? (He actually was part of the American Bohemians.)
Run around naked?
Run away to France and work in vineyard?
Live in an intentional community?
Reject anything that goes against what inspires you.
You’re not being selfish; you’re being authentic. It’s not your job to make someone else happy. That’s their own job. Concentrate on what will make you most mindfully productive within your own life.
There is only one rule to being a mindful wanderer, and that is not burdening someone else with your dreams. The good news is, that when you follow your soul, the universe conspires with you to provide what you need. It might not look always like what you need, but trust me, it will be. Courage and faith, my wanderlust friend.
Practice your Art Without Compromise.
How often do we say “if only.” If only we could write full time. If only we could paint what we want to paint instead of what sells? If only we could be a real artist, a real writer?
I’m so over this, I have to tell you.
Whatever is burning inside you, do that. If you don’t do that—in whatever capacity makes sense to you—you will snuff out the flame of inspiration.
Inspiration is simply your divinity expressing itself into the living cosmos.
Those moments when you feel that bubbling up of words or ideas or art are moments of true connection to your inner sanctum.
What is inexpressible is being born onto paper, or canvas or your musical instrument. Only you can bring it into being. Practice your art as if your life depended on it, because it truly does.
Bohemians don’t doubt their place in the scheme of things. They simply live in technicolor. Every day is a day for practicing their art form. Nothing else makes sense. All or nothing is the Bohemian motto. They’re willing to take the risk of failure because not doing what they’re born to do is the biggest risk of all.
Speak your Truth.
If you live the above four habits, you will be speaking your truth. There will be no doubt that what you express in your daily walk will reflect who you are on the inside.
The more you speak your truth, the more you will ruffle feathers. Fortunately this is none of your concern. What others think of you does not register on the same Richter scale as what you think of yourself.
A Bohemian is primarily concerned with not compromising their own authenticity.
Go ahead, be a rebel, follow in the footsteps of artists, writers, musicians, dreamers, revolutionaries, peacemakers, consciousness shifters.
Be a Bohemian. Long hair, silver rings, tattoos, hippy clothing, pot-smoking love-fests optional, but certainly a pleasurable possibility.
“My dream is to become a farmer. Just a Bohemian guy pulling up his own sweet potatoes for dinner.” ~ Lenny Kravitz.
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Wiki Commons