He probably didn’t need to laugh quite so much.
I have an excuse… I have flu… migraine…I’m not well…
My son had found me, head in hands… and knowing this had asked what was wrong.
I knew I shouldn’t have told him….
…to be fair, he has every reason to laugh.
I’d just turned the phone ringer volume up…
..in case Ani needed to call me.
I know she is a very clever dog, but…
Yep. I’m losing the plot.
To be fair, I’m not alone.
The roses are in full bloom, primulas sparkle in the pale sunlight, the fish are active, jumping at the clouds of midges above the pond. Geum’s dot the garden with flame. Perfume from the choisya blossom… the clear blue of campanulas and the deep purple of hebe…and the bright yellow of winter mahonia….
It is November. It is cold. Even the garden is confused.
It seems many things are bending normality to suit themselves.
And really, why ever not?
Who says we have to conform to a normality predefined by who knows who? And who does define it anyway? When you really think about it… we do.
There is no law that says you have to get old when you reach a certain age, retire to the armchair and wait for a decorous finale… And no rule that says a child cannot be as gifted as a Mozart… Or the fallacy that old dogs can’t learn new tricks…
Lots of platitudes, accepted norms… yet really, there is nothing set in stone. Fear, perhaps, is the definer of normality. We fear to step outside the narrow boundaries that we see as acceptable…And while we do so we narrow the boundaries of acceptable behaviour more and more, setting our own limits just a smidgen inside the safe zone. Being conventional, behaving as one ‘ought’, becomes an unconscious boundary we fear to cross.
We look out at a society whose concept of the ‘usual’ is defined by its own fears of standing out from the crowd… falling flat on its face… looking ‘silly’ in the eyes of others. Why should that matter? It is those who take risks…go out on a limb for an idea, an ideal, an innovation that get things done and move life forward for the rest of us.
As teenagers we push the envelope of acceptability with fashions and music, crusading ideas that challenge the normality of preceding generations. I think that is perhaps the only reason we, as a society, haven’t imploded, or followed the example of the mythical Oozlum bird. Each generation pushes the bounds out a little further… perhaps so it has a slightly bigger prison of normality to play in as it, in turn, ages and settles for convention. The revolutions of our youth become the bars of mediocrity in middle age.
There are also some who defy normality through fear of being swallowed whole by the gaping maw of age or mediocrity. Fear, on both sides of the equation, defines… and has a lot to answer for. Yet we are the ones who give it life.
Those who defy these unwritten rules are cast in one of two roles… they are either labelled with epithets such as Bohemian, hippy, weird… you know the type of thing… those half envious names that we secretly wish we could live up to, while endowing them with a tone of quasi-indulgent superiority. Or we hail them as examples of what we could be. The dividing line seems also to be defined by society… if you are successful, you may be hailed as the latter category… the rest serve as a measure of our own slavery to convention.
Yet we all have that spark within us that makes us unique. The rebellious teenager still lives within each one of us, ready to challenge the limits the mundane world seems to impose. We are all capable of the inner freedom to be great… even if that greatness is never seen beyond the confines of our own hearts and minds.
You have captured it quite well, Sue. We fear to step beyond the boundaries, and we fear not too. Perhaps that is why many go a little crazy in their 40s. I’ve learned that greater age brings a little less fear of what others may think, and more pure pleasure in the beauty of it all. Your roses are just stunning. So happy your garden is thriving late into the season. Hope you are feeling better- you and the computers…. Best wishes, WG
I am getting there.. and the computers will, whether they like it or not.
I agree with you.. the older you get you seem to go one way or the other.. either so deeply tied into convention that you really don’t see an ‘outside’.. apart from the lunatic fringe and mutton dressed as lamb brigade ( I may fit in both those categories…) or you simply no longer give a hoot about how you are perceived and just enjoy being yourself. x
I vote for “B”. Just read your piece about the Kite. Pure poetry, Sue. And again, so true. Those who remain deeply in convention stay down in the muck most times. It takes a sense of adventure and fearlessness to rise on the warm air currents and see the wider perspective. Happy flying… WG
We are all slaves to so many of the unwritten rules.. yet we don’t have to be. Even when there are aspects of our lives where, perhaps in respect for others, we conform… there are no rules on the inside about how we feel life. x
And there is the beauty of it. So many of the unwritten rules, like the written ones, just make life nicer and more convenient. They help us treat others with more kindness. I love those who blazed the trail for us for free exploration of thought and experience…. Dee and Bacon, Rousseau, Jefferson, Crowley, and so many others who remain unnamed. I believe there are still rules for our inner life we all accept as guides, but we learn to examine and challenge them- growing either into them or to transcend them along the path. XX *
It all comes down to awareness really.. whether we follow the rules blindly, sleepwalking through the maze… or whether we consciously choose to explore it. x
Like a lovely napoleon… so many levels and layers to explore…. so delicious 🙂
This is wonderful!
i like you for your unique self )
Aw, Beth 🙂
Oh well said, Sue: let us defy normality till the final gasp, that last kick up of the ancient heels, the ultimate grab some toothsome hunk and dance the oldest dance of all – at ninety! and why not! Let us NOT be taken in by the man-made hoops of age-related ‘reason’ – b***** that for a game of quoits! You are perfect as you are. Hope you’re feeling better. xxx
Still doggedly fighting the bug and the migraine… all things pass, when they are ready!
Great-Aunt Annie-Beatrice… shocking pink coat.. bows… ninety.. Hell yes 🙂
I can blame genetics 😉 xxx
SUE, THIS IS CERTAINLY THE BEST POST OF YOUR’S THAT I’VE SEEN!!!! 🙂 Being as I don’t get time to read all of your posts, I’m extremely happy not to have missed this one.
First, and the lesser of my two mountainous likes really, I like the flower photos here very much – beautiful images!
However, I agree so much with what you have written from “It seems many things are bending normality to suit themselves.” on downwards that it could well be me writing it – except that I think that you’ve probably put it more coherently than I might have.
As I get older I become more and more appalled at our society’s lust for conformity and normality – as you say, “Fear, perhaps, is the definer of normality. We fear to step outside the narrow boundaries that we see as acceptable…And while we do so we narrow the boundaries of acceptable behaviour more and more, setting our own limits just a smidgen inside the safe zone. Being conventional, behaving as one ‘ought’, becomes an unconscious boundary we fear to cross.”.
“Behaving an one ‘ought'” is a notion that will send me towards apoplexy! A friend died not so long ago – he was a gentleman from an older generation, and he always behaved and lived life impeccably, precisely as he ought – and I sometimes wonder what that achieved, and I feel sad.
Sue, because I identify with what you’ve said so much, I’m going to reblog this – thank you for these wonderful and important words! Adrian 🙂
Thank you, Adrian, on all counts.
There is a time and a place for conformity.. a time, perhaps, to rein back a little for the comfort of others, but there is an inner freedom we can all touch and grow into.
The ‘ought to’s also have a place, but we are so constrained by them most of the time that we are blind to the reasons and become sheep to our own conventions.
If you’ll excuse the expression, bugger that for a game of soldiers. 🙂
Yes, sheep to our own conventions – very well put! Oh I’m not advocating anarchy or anything like that. We live in a reasonably safe society, with too much to eat and a roof over our heads – we are fortunate in these respects. But nearly everything is subjugated to the Great God Cash, and to power and influence in many forms too, and there is awful thirst for convention and uniformity – an awful emotional greyness – to put it photographically >>> right on the mid tone and intent of staying there >>> let’s have more contrast, grain and blown highlights! 🙂 A
Amen to that, Adrian.
Rules and conventions help us live together.. but there are limits…
Nothing wrong with living in technicolour 🙂
Reblogged this on FATman Photos and commented:
Sue Vincent is a blogging friend who writes perceptively about life and our lives, often with a spiritual slant – I frequently gain insights and other benefits from her words. I’m reblogging this post of her’s for two reasons. First, re photography, I like the flower images she has here. But, second, THE REAL CRUNCHER is what she’s written. As I get older, and especially now that I’m retired and have the time and inclination to look at and think about things, I am increasingly appalled by our society’s craving for uniformity, convention, “behaving as one ought”, “behaving as is expected of one”, not overstepping the mark – how did Cecil Beaton describe the adherents of such lifestyles – “the play-it-safers, the slaves of the ordinary”. Maybe the fact that I’m always trying to push my photography towards new visions is part of my revolt against this burgeoning craving for uniformity, I don’t know. But, in this post, Sue has written about these phenomena very coherently – and she has taken the words right out of my mouth. From her words “We fear to step outside the narrow boundaries that we see as acceptable …”, read on downwards and hear the words – and if you take my advice you’ll read this piece more than once. We should let these thoughts at least permeate our photography – but the better thing is to let them permeate our lives. Adrian
From the rebel within me to the rebel in you, Sue, this is just beautiful. I love the photos and your insight.
Thank Judy 🙂
That is a beautiful greeting 🙂
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Insightful writing, and so very true