Colouring outside the lines

I have always wanted to write.  I have never been brave enough.   Sydney J. Harris, the  incomparable columnist for the Chicago Sun Times said “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”  So to save myself from at least one inconsolable regret, that of never seeing my writing published in any form, may I present my blog, Notes from Just Past Normal.  Why start a blog now?  I was inspired by a friend’s writing.  It was very good and it made me think; actually it made me think a lot.   And once I started thinking, I  just can’t seem to  stop.  I write in my head constantly: on the bus, walking the dog, out for a run, driving my car, at work.  It’s just one continuous outpouring of ideas that I email to myself, being the 21st century equivalent of a writer’s notebook.    I have quite a collection. 

Notes from Just Past Normal?   I’ve always played by the rules.  Actually I love rules.  Rules keep life simple.  Rules are about control.  If you play by the rules you will be accepted and liked.  Ok, so I’ll admit to having issues with a) control and b) being accepted.   So rules have always worked for me.   But occasionally, if we are very lucky, something happens in your life that is so unexpected, so outside the ordinary it can, quite literally, blast you right out of  those self-righteous and self-preserving rules.  There is always a choice, a yes or a no.   But  if you  are prepared to grab that chance, to say yes when no would be the safe choice and  if you are very, very lucky, something extraordinary can happen.   I got that chance and I grabbed it.  I said yes when no would have been so very acceptable.  And it changed me, it inspired me, I coloured way outside the lines.    And now I’m going to keep up that scribbling, keep pushing back the borders  and I’m sending back missives from that brave new world of Just Past Normal.  

Here’s what I think happens when we always play by the rules, always colour inside the lines.  The box gets smaller.  Our life box.  Every time you stay inside the border the box shrinks infinitesimally.  But over time, all those tiny shrinkages add up.   The possibilities of life become smaller, our world diminishes.   And the worst part is that you don’t even notice it happening.   Every day inside this shrinking box we sell  little pieces of our soul for career advancement, a new car, a bigger TV, a kitchen renovation.   

But colouring outside the lines, now there is a challenge.  Every time you scribble over the lines, you move the border of what is normal and ordinary in your own life.  When you first start, taking one, simple, autonomous scribble, no matter how small, can be paralyzing.  The fear of “what if”.  What if people think I’m crazy, what if they don’t like me anymore, what if I’m just a bit past normal? But grab hold of whatever inspired you, summon up your  courage, take that first step and POW, you start to move outside the box, you push back the borders, your life gets LARGER.  And the truly great thing is, the more you practice, the easier it gets.   Scribble goes the crayon and back goes the border.  The world starts to EXPAND, the feeling of what is possible just GROWS, the event horizon moves into the future.  It is scary as hell, but euphoric.  And once you get hooked on that feeling of euphoria, well there is no chemical substitute for the feeling that your life is simply full of opportunity, that anything is possible.  It just takes the courage to say yes that first time opportunity comes knocking. 

So here is what I’m challenging myself to do.   I’m going to grab hold of that big old crayon and scribble away as far out of the lines as I can, as often as I can.   I’m going to move past ordinary, I want extraordinary.  And just see what happens.   No regrets.  If you care to follow along, I’ll publish my escapades and my thoughts on them  – my Notes from Just Past Normal.   Hopefully they will be humourous and entertaining, though sometimes I expect they will be difficult and maybe even sad.   And for my good friends who are my partners in crime, my willing (or unwilling) accomplices, have no fear – all names and identifying details will be changes to protect the guilty.

The working title for my next blog is  “Ink Stains”.  One of my first really big scribbles –  I got a tattoo.  Not a little star or a butterfly, oh no, I got a big, custom designed piece of art permanently inked on my body.  I love it.  I”m always asked why?   Stand bye for some ruminations on ownership.

In heavy rotation:  Sons of Sylvia – Revelation.  Listen to these incredibly talented, genre crossing brothers from Nashville.  Next year you’ll be saying you knew them when. 

Printed Word:  The Lost Highway by David Adam Richards.  A dark meditation on a life of regret.   Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  Your subconscious knows everything you need to know about a person or situation in the first 30 seconds.   Everything else is just your conscious catching up.

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