So you can be real.
There are rules, rules, all the time – rules that dictate what we are and aren’t supposed to do, wear, say, and more.
There are unwritten rules – mores, agreements, standards, conventions, customs, and practices – that adults in our society are supposed to engage in. We spend years of our childhood and then years of our adulthood perfecting our obedience.
I recently wrote about crying in public. Adults aren’t supposed to have feelings, especially in public. Especially men. I rejected that and cried.
People loved that article. I received no negative comment about my breaking the rules and crying in public. On the other hand, I received negative comments because I was wearing a tie-dye shirt in a post I put on Facebook. I was told it wasn’t rabbinic.
It is import to disregard social constructs so you can be real.
Social construct is a powerful force.
It can limit or even stifle us.
Disregarding social constructs
Let’s think about the interaction we have with cashiers. I am fascinated how we all seem to know the rules on that one. The official pattern seems to be like this:
Cashier: <standard greeting>
Customer: <standard greeting response>
Cashier: <standard inquiry into the general well-being of customer>
Customer: <standard response followed by general inquiry into well-being of cashier>
I think we ought to be looser and more open. More real. More like ourselves.
I’ve been disrupting the system some. (You know about this from the interaction I wrote about when I opened up to the cashier about how rough I time I had been having.)
Let me give an example of a recent attempt of mine to be more real.
Me: “Good morning.”
Cashier: “How are you?”
Me to cashier: “I’m great. How are you?”
Cashier: “I am definitely okay.”
Me: “Definitely okay? What does that mean?…That you are good or not? And this is now a little awkward now because, well, I said, ‘I am great’ and you came in with ‘I am definitely okay’ and I don’t want to come off as bragging too much….”
A little bit of a conversation followed because I let my inner-dialogue out. Was it an amazing conversation? No, but it was real and kept me and the cashier from being on auto-pilot. F*ck social construct. Please. If we are all just buttoned down and being proper all the time, then we aren’t being honest, we aren’t being real, we aren’t alive; we just automatons, stale, reruns.
Don’t listen to society.
Just be you.
Me as an example
I wear an oversized hat on my head almost every day. It’s neither a kippah nor a yarmulke. It’s something that I made and I’ve been wearing, and, outside of TSA employees, no one gives a crap. I’ve been told not to wear tie-dye. Nothing about my head covering. Amazing.
I’m trying to disrupt the system.
I’ve organized and attended shadow dinners – where everyone comes dressed as a part of themselves that they would be embarrassed if other people thought they were that person. Really. The most amazing thing is that no one at any other table knows that my table is all in costume – they just think we are a group of people. (If you live near Portland or are willing to travel for an evening of exploring how absolutely little and insignificant our sense of self is, let me know.)
If I can just be me – chatting with cashiers and wearing what I want – I want to give you permission to just be you.
Isn’t that what religion is really about?
You be you, as best as you can be you, and be free.
Religion is about feeling free.
Spirituality – it seems – is about inner peace and feeling good.
Both very important things.
But, religion can go where spirituality can not – religion can set people free.
Fuck the rules that tell you that you ought to be stressed or anything other than who you are in this moment.
Be yourself. Be free.