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The Myth of Normalcy and How to Break Free

“Reason: the rust of our vitality. It is the madman in us who forces us into adventure; once he abandons us, we are lost.” ~ Emil Cioran

You are not normal. You never have been. You never will be. You are an animal at odds with itself. You are a creature torn between spirit and flesh, between having roots and having wings, between wormhood and godhood. You are a force of nature first, a person second. 

Society would have you believe the opposite of this, that you are a person first. You are not. You are nature, and nature is you. You are primal. You are blood and bones. You are compulsive, anxious, sexual, tender, ornery, playful, dazed, and confused. 

And that’s okay. Or, at least, it should be. But society breathes down your neck. Culture pigeonholes you, forces eye guards on you, keeps you “in line.” 

It’s time to call “bullshit.” Especially on a profoundly sick society. If, as Krishnamurti said, “It’s no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” then it stands to reason that we turn the tables on the sick society by becoming maladjusted to it.

We maladjust to readjust the adjusted yet unjust society. We sow a little madness to gain a little sanity in an insane world. We flip the script. We push the envelope. We flatten the box that everyone claims to be thinking outside of. We eccentrically crush out.

This begins at home. It begins with realigning the all-too-adjusted self. Sometimes the halo gets so high that it must be forced back down into the mortal coil from which it sprang. Sometimes in order to see the forest for the trees, you’ve got to burn down the forest. 

Have a sacred breakdown:

“A breakdown is not merely a random piece of madness or malfunction; it is a very real—albeit very inarticulate—bid for health and self-knowledge.” ~ Alain de Botton

When society doesn’t provide a healthy sense of community or interconnected spirituality, the human animal must create it for himself. He does so through his powerful imagination. Through bold acts of creativity. Through insouciance and nonchalance. Through a devil-may-care attitude despite both the devil and God. 

A mighty antidote to the mythos of normalcy is manifesting a strategic breakdown. It’s allowing yourself a sacred space to “go crazy” for a time. A place to be vulnerable despite an invulnerable world.

Where you are free to set a minefield in your mind field, to toss a monkey wrench into all the outdated machinery, to plant question marks in a field of periods, to upset the clockwork by un-cogging yourself. It’s a place where you are free to transform millstones into whetstones into Philosopher’s stones.

Sometimes you must lose your mind in order to find your soul. Sometimes the only way a higher order can be discovered is by sowing a little disorder into the current order.

As Terence McKenna said, “This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”

Take a leap of courage out of faith:

“It is better to act and repent than not to act and regret.” ~ Machiavelli

Avoid having rigid goals. Change is the only law. Faith is good as a flotation device, it will prevent you from drowning, but it is horrible for swimming. In order to swim, and swim well, you must detach yourself from the flotation device of your faith. Transform your leap of faith into a leap of courage.

As Marcel Proust said, “We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us.”

The only way to begin “the journey through the wilderness” is to first abandon the known. We must surrender to the unknown. We must take a leap of courage. This is how it has always been done.

We are conditioned to use the flotation device of our faith, to use the crutch handed down by our forefathers, to remain in the comfort zone provided by our culture. But we must recondition our cultural conditioning in order to discover our hero’s journey. In order to understand that the journey is the thing, we must first begin the journey. 

The journey cannot begin while we are still floating, still leaning, still comfortable. We must swim. We must discover our own way. We must get uncomfortable. It is discomfort that puts our mind-body-soul into motion.

It is through scars that we discover sacred wounds. It is through pressure that the coal of our naivete becomes the pearl of our purpose. It is only outside of our comfort zone that we discover millstones can be transformed into whetstones. 

Inside the comfort zone—filled with crutches and flotation devices and creature comforts—there is only rust, dust, and dullness. There’s only naivete, softness, and fragility.

Outside the comfort zone, on the path of our own hero’s journey, we see how the vicissitudes of life, the slings and arrows, the trials and tribulations, have the potential to transform our naivete into wisdom, our softness into robustness, and our fragility into antifragility.

Be anomalous: 

“So far as I can see, nothing good in the world has ever been done by well-rounded people. The good work is done by people with jagged, broken edges, because those edges cut things and leave an imprint, a design.” ~ Harry Crews

Leave an imprint on the world by becoming anomalous. Use the fire of your eccentricity to brand your soul signature into the flesh of the cosmos. Strangeness is power. Use this power to transform the world.

Embrace your strangeness. Double down on what makes you different. Discover a niche as unique as your own fingerprint. Stick to what makes you weird, odd, and eccentric. This is where the magic is at. This is where you are most free. Be free. Be wild. Be crazy, beautiful, hungry, and alive. Be fire. 

Let the rest of the world be moths if they choose. You cannot control that. But you can control if you are fire or not. You can control if you are a moth or not. Don’t be a moth, enviously fluttering around the fire of others. Be fire. Fire plus fire creates greater fire. Burn the world with your own inner light. 

Being fire is being anomalous. It’s tapping that passionate part of you that makes you come alive. Fire is desire, anger, love, art, hunger, pain. It does not allow for repression or suppression. It burns through all things. It transforms all things into ashes. It gives birth to high art. It gives birth to the mighty Phoenix. 

The only way you discover your own inner Phoenix is by burning through your cultural conditioning. By burning through your faith, your flotation devices, and your crutches, and turning them into mere kindling. By burning through the mythos of normalcy and embracing the authenticity of your weirdness.

By burning through invulnerability and discovering absolute vulnerability. By burning through sanity with wild creativity and sacred insanity. By burning through the profoundly sick society and creating a healthier society out of the ashes left behind.

Image Sources

Breaking Free by Volture 

Gary Z McGee
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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