It’s not just today, or one incident, or one person or situation. It’s been phenomenon for a while now – long enough to characterize your short experience with life. It is the phenomenon of having a mind that wills its own way.
It starts in middle school, when you’re feet are shaky with the surge of hormones. The mind doesn’t know right from wrong then. All it knows is acceptance and the lack of it.
So you begin to try and adopt things, like things that are not you – from homely music played by your dad on a Sunday morning, you shift to metal. You don’t really like it, in fact you don’t understand it. But, when you lend your iPod to someone, at least you don’t need to feel ashamed.
Then come the boys… the toys, the talk, the walk, the gossip and chatter, the curlers and straighteners, the heels and flaps… you’d much rather wear your comfortable floaters, but how could you? They are oh-so-ugly!
So from tshirts, you move to tops, tops with sleeves, without them, low necklines and back lines and all the other accessories with names that need a dictionary to understand.
But, somehow, you steer clear of them all, because that little mind in that little hormone-d head has a voice stronger than your own. You listen to it. And in retrospect, you’re glad you did. But right there, in that present, that little mind just lost you your friends.
So carry on, you reach college. By this time your mind is quite dominant. It is that secret life you wish you always had. It’s different from the crowd. It doesn’t recognize shades of grey, it knows only black and white.
You rebel against your mind, you blame your parents for giving you a sound upbringing – the ability to think on your own, for yourself… they tell you to pause before you act, think before you talk, look before you leap… and suddenly all these precautions seem such a pain. You think that your friends think that you are a bore. You want to break-free and be like the rest.
And then, you are exposed – exposed to great ideas and thinkers, books and writers, you see that true liberty comes when you listen to the mind’s voice and act accordingly. You read, to read and perchance to dream, like Andre Brink would say. You escape into a world where what you think about your actions is all that matters. What matters is whether your mind voice allows you to sleep at night. You think. Your mind and you start becoming one.
So you thank the books for making you see why you should thank your parents for that sound upbringing. And once again, you steer clear of the mass, you decide to not care what people think. And at this age, at 17, 18 or 19… when your hormones are finally settling, you find it so liberating.
And then you turn 20 and then 21. Legally an adult. A job in matter of time. No more college, no more care… it’s you against the world. You prepare. And you let your mind voice be the better of you.
But, you were born in a generation where people leap and then look, talk and then don’t think, act and don’t care. And you wonder why you’re such a misfit. You wish you could fit in, be ‘normal’ according to others. Oh no! it’s middle school all over again. Damn you mind!
So until this point, this mind voice that made you one person within and an entirely different one outside asserts itself. It tells you it’s time you reveal your secret life. It asks to take a chance, to not a give a damn. It wants to know how that might feel.
So you do it. You stop living in the grey areas. You walk towards what you think is white and right. And you no more do this subtly. You do this openly, with your head held high. You’re glad to be walking away from hypocrisy and lies and actions meant to merely please.
And you pay for it. It hurts. It bruises deeply and you bleed. But wounds remind you of how good it felt to not give a damn.
It gives you wings and makes you fly – a flight so beautiful, you’d never want to stop.