Saturday, January 9, 2010

Confessions of a Conformist to non-Conformity

I've never really been able to listen to the Dave Matthews Band. Dave Matthews writes great songs and is an accomplished, respectable musician, but I've just never been able to listen to him. Why? Simply because the rest of the world loves him.

In middle school, it was routine for myself and a few others to stop at my friend Seth's house on the way home after school. We'd pilfer snacks from the cabinets, play soccer, shoot things with pellet guns, and spend hours coming up with wonderfully creative pyrotechnic experiments.

(sidebar) One time at Seth's house, I shot an exploding target at point-blank range. From my friends' perspectives, I imagine it looked a lot like Wile E. Coyote after he accidentally holds onto the ACME TNT just a little too long. I stood astonished and frozen for a moment, then turned around to see my friends mouthing panicked words to me, but somebody had pushed the mute button. My hearing returned about 30 minutes later. It was awesome. (end sidebar)

Seth's parents graciously, almost always, invited us boys to stay for dinner, and in doing so they got to know us quite well. I must have been ranting about my lack of respect for authority one night when Seth's father half-seriously, half-jokingly called me a "conformist to non-conformity." Not quite sure what exactly that meant at the time, I smirked and thanked him, but spent the rest of the dinner in silent, fierce contemplation. Turns out he was right.

Sadly, the DMB is not the only thing I've missed out on over the years due to my strict aversion to the mainstream. I know "What's popular isn't always right, and what's right isn't always popular," but apparently sometimes it is. Cognizant of my natural disposition to go against the grain, I have to consciously make efforts now to at least entertain the current trends and really try to see if I actually enjoy them or not.

About five years ago, my friend Amy gave me the book, "Blue Like Jazz," by Donald Miller. On the cover, the book is described as "nonreligious thoughts on Christian spirituality," which pretty much triggered my gag reflex right from the off. For five years now, I've looked at that book on my shelf and rolled my eyes because the whole Christian culture LOVES it. Generally speaking, Christian literature just gets on my nerves, and I don't enjoy what the majority of church-goers enjoy.

I'd never have opened this book if it weren't for my buddy Ian. Ian's story is his, and not mine to tell, but suffice it to say, that he's a great guy and I've found in him a certain kindred spirit the likes of which we humans are lucky to come across on few occasions in our lifetimes. Thanks to Ian's unintentional persuasion, a week or so ago, I quite painfully swallowed my pride to find myself staring at chapter 1 of Donald Miller's book. I finished it this afternoon and am at a bit of a loss for words.
  • I'm thankful for Amy and Ian.
  • I'm thankful for Donald Miller.
  • I'm terrified of my own pride and self-centeredness.
  • I'm embarrassed at how onlookers must have (rightfully) perceived me all of these years.
  • I'm afraid I'll forget what I've learned from this book.
  • I think I'm hopeful that there is yet hope for even me.
My point here isn't really to tout how great this book is, although I did enjoy it immensely . We all have books that speak to us, and this one came at the right time to a fellow like myself who really needed to hear it. The most important thing I've gotten out of this experience is that my pride is a cruel traitor, betraying me so very subtly yet so very effectively. Damn my pride. May 2010 be a year in which I grant no quarter to my pride in order to make room for Pride's far more laudable antithesis, Humility.

not ready, and yet ready,


1 comment:

  1. Deep thoughts from a handyman that uses words like "cognizant" and "laudable antithesis"! Being honest and having an open mind means you are far from having to classify yourself as one into mainstream "Christian" culture. Great thoughts!