Out of Place

            As I step in the shower and turn on the water, I notice in one corner, a tiny frog, about the size of a nickel.  How did it get past the glass door? Is there a way that it came out of the drain? Whatever path the frog took, it is certainly out of place in a big way. That makes one consider other places and situations where there is a sense of not belonging, of being "out of water."

          Growing up, many kids experience situations where they feel alienated in some way. They don't possess certain desirable toys or stylish clothing. Depending on the era, they don't have the right phonograph, cassette or CD player or their smart phone/tablet is off brand.  You are what you consume. This goes beyond things, to personality and who you run with. In high school, there is a hope to be part of the in crowd, or if not, at least hang with the jocks or the greasers. Nerds tend to operate on their own island, marooned with abilities that will eventually make them money but probably won't get them a date to the prom. Feeling out of place is even more endemic with the barrage of social media now telling kids that they don't measure up to shifting ideals.

          As adults, rugged individualism was supposed to be a positive trait; however, the lemming model is usually more revered. Go along to get along, as the edge of the cliff looms nearer and nearer. You are out of place if you alone stand on the street corner shouting, "The emperor has no clothes," while there are thunderous cheers from the crowd as the royal carriage passes by.  While traditional societal values continue to fracture, opening up more acceptable "alternatives," it may seem ironic that alienation is ever increasing. But it can be hard to fit in when rules and expectations are inscribed on the walls of sand castles.

          Still, being out of place has its benefits.  Many geniuses; be they great inventors, incredible musicians, artists, or entrepreneurs, did not fit in with societal norms. They are and were outliers, marching to a different drummer whose rat tat tatting helped them churn society in a positive way.  These brilliant iconoclasts often have prickly personalities and/or strange personal habits.  Einstein couldn't tie his shoes; Van Gogh thought he only needed one ear. Even if you are in the Joe Un-average category, there are benefits to not fitting in. You can pursue your own muse without catering to the boring regimen of those around you. Drive a restored Edsel rather than a Lexus. Wear only clothes that you buy at the Goodwill store.  Put peanut butter on your bananas (an Elvis thing).

          During my college teaching career I was big on cowboy hats, boots and vests (I have almost thirty). I carried my office with me on a hand cart. Was plugged into a fifteen year old iPod classic. Drove a Buick old geezer car before I was an old geezer.  I was out of place, but in place with my comfort level. I rocked the idiosyncrasies.

          After my shower, I get a small container and flip the little frog into it.  I take him outside, put him in the grass and hope he will make it through the day without a lizard viewing him as lunch. Because just making it through the day is more than enough.