This post is Grassroots, meaning a reader posted it directly. If you see an issue with it, contact an editor.
If you’d like to post a Grassroots post, click here!

April 13, 2021


He isn’t like the other children. 


That line, jokingly attributed to my mother when she introduced me as a kid, is part of my biography.  You see, part of the way I make my living is by speaking to groups both small and large.  Unfortunately, too many speakers’ biographies are rife with self-congratulations.  Sure, I like to talk about myself as much as the next guy.  But I try to keep an audience awake.  Having them listen to something that drones about whatever temporal things I’ve accomplished doesn’t seem to be a very good way to do it.  But most biographies—like how we present ourselves to others—are little more than curated looks are our lives.

Whether it’s the result of mistreatment by our parents (Not me.) or the pressure to conform to norms and expectations to raise our social capital (Been there.  Done that.  Probably still do some.), most of us learn to edit ourselves at some time during our lives. I think we’re just trying to protect ourselves from pain and rejection.  I know I have.

My efforts to unburden myself from the weight of convention, the expectations of others, and even the expectations I have of myself, began about ten years ago.  Now, at age 60, I’ve shed some of that weight.  But not all of it.  This morning, after drinking a cup of coffee and some meditation, I found myself writing this bit of verse. Maybe they will inspire you to shed some of that weight too.

To thunder across these open plains,

            free of bit or bridle

To roar, fearsome,

            heedless of the cracking whip and cajoling command,

To leap and climb,

            dancing across the granite floor,

To search and soar,

            joyfully riding the drafts of restlessness,

To dive waters deep and frigid,

            and rise from the dark to gulp and plunge once again,

To pursue, to chase, to prey

            sating this hopeful hunger,

To chatter atop lush canopies,

            to play unaware,

Neither possessed, nor possessing,

            untamed, untethered, relentless, careless and kind,

This is life.  

The truth is, I’ve always felt a little out of place. I’ve always felt different.  I’ve hidden parts of who I am, sometimes because of legitimate rejection and sometimes because I just feared it. Doing the work to understand my strategies to stop such madness hasn’t always been pleasant. There have been days when the long shadow of pain and fear made me want to turn away. To go back to pretending.  I’m pretty good at it.  And it’s kept me almost happy. But the ground I’ve retaken has been hard-fought.  I won’t give it back willingly.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way—out of place, misunderstood, or even selfish for being who you are. But if you weary of editing yourself, keep at it. Your epiphanies will come. No. That’s not a license to be an asshat or narcissist. It’s not permission to excuse yourself for your brutal honesty or telling it like it is. But it is permission to be you, to disappoint people from time to time, and to recognize and walk in whatever gives you joy.

Go ahead.  Thunder across the plains without the bit or bridle.  That’s life.

And to be clear, no. I am not like the other children.

Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jim Owens  |  Contribution: 5,465