Three Ways to Un-toe the Line

“I would rather be chained to this rock than be the obedient servant of the gods.” ~ Prometheus

It’s tricky being unique human beings attempting to express ourselves within an entrenched social dynamic. Especially when that social dynamic is unhealthy, rigid, stuck in its ways, and not receptive to self-expression. And especially-especially when that social dynamic is authoritarian (or even tyrannical), asking us to “toe the line” or else.

They say we should just stay within the lines. Don’t get out of order. Don’t break ranks. Don’t break the rules. Definitely don’t rock the boat. They wag a finger in our face. They toss a bible into our lap. They threaten us with legalese and violence disguised as law and order.

They toss the phrase, “it’s just the way things are” around as if we’re all chained to a rock by the gods having our liver torn out by an eagle (Promethean punishment). They are basically telling us it’s their way or the highway.

But as Eve Ensler vulnerably declared, “Good is toeing the line, being behaved, being quiet, being passive, fitting in, being liked; but Great is being messy, having a belly, speaking your mind, standing up for what you believe in, fighting for another paradigm, not letting people talk you out of what you know to be true.”

Un-toeing the line is standing up for what we believe in despite the majority. It’s fighting for a new, healthier, updated social paradigm. It’s not letting people talk us out of what we know to be true, even as we are questioning what we know to be true. For, it stands to reason that the first line we toe is the subconscious, codependent, and ignorant line we’ve conditionally drawn within ourselves.

Here are three simple ways that we can courageously blur the line with our toe rather than submissively toe the line.

Choose exhilaration over comfort:

“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.” ~ Rumi

Over and above the live-learn-laugh-love disposition, there is audaciousness. There is courage. There is fearlessness in the face of fear. There is the injection of excitement despite comfort. There is the ability to embrace insecurity and use it as a tool to leverage us past security.

There is the ability to be courageously vulnerable, and thus flexible, despite the part of us that wishes to remain comfortably invulnerable, and thus inflexible.

Choosing exhilaration over comfort is grabbing the bull by the horns and daring to guide it in the direction we want, even at the risk of being dragged or tossed or even trampled. It’s standing at that line that everybody else is toeing and drawing a bigger line that trumps it. This bigger line represents our values. It trumps the line everyone is vainly toeing precisely because it represents our love, our health, and our moral principles.

Choose magic over predictability:

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Magic and eccentric daring are superior to the typical and safe route. Especially when our eccentric daring is built upon a foundation of typical safety. As with all things, balance is key. When our foundation is healthy, then our eccentric daring becomes healthy magic. But if given the choice between banal safety and healthy daring, it is almost always more rewarding and adventurous to choose healthy daring.

Choosing magic over predictability is choosing to use our “madness” as a tool for our genius. Our genius wields our madness like a double-edged sword, using it to cut reality into magical slices and adventurous servings. It’s standing at that line that everyone else is vainly toeing and embracing the absurdity of it all while becoming an absurd hero despite. It’s standing at the precipice and tossing diamonds at demons. It’s transforming the absolutely ridiculous into poetry and art.

Choose potential over safety:

“There’s no weakness as great as false strength.” ~ Stefan Molyneux

Choose progressive adaptability over conservative security. Our potential as a healthy evolving species is greatly hindered when safety and security are deemed more important than progressive adaptability.

When we get stuck in our ways, safety just keeps us entrenched. But when we choose potential over safety, we’re less likely to get stuck in the first place. Besides, safety at the expense of freedom is a slippery slope into tyranny.

Choosing potential over safety is choosing to embrace the journey. It’s the ability to accept our imperfection (self-propelled Fibonacci sequence) and then use it as a tool to inch our way closer to perfection (self-compelled Phi).

We’ll never become perfect, of course, just as we’ll never achieve enlightenment or utopia, but we can become better (healthier) for the striving. We can become better at what we’re doing, whatever it is. We can become more enlightened than we were before. We can move closer to utopia than we were before. It’s about potential not perfection.

Image source:

Toed line b/w

Where the magic happens

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  • Gary Z McGee

    Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.

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