You know those brooding artists you hear about? They’re quirky, dress weird, have strange habits, and most of all, are rebellious?
I’m one of them. Well… I like to think I don’t brood. But in all honesty I do sometimes. But really only when I’m at a point in my writing where I’m stuck. And when someone nominates me for the “ice bucket challenge” and I have no intention of doing it but need to figure out how to respond. Okay, nevermind. I brood.
But I don’t usually dress weird… usually.
BUT, I am DEFINITELY rebellious. I do NOT like to be told what to do. I also DESPISE trends. Like, HATE. Thems is strong words, eh?
I hate trends so much that just THINKING about participating in one as popular as the ALS Ice Bucket challenge makes my literal SOUL hurt. I am NOT exaggerating.
I think, and let me be bold here, that I am so bothered by them because following them feels like relinquishing power over myself. People can be influenced into behaviors as easily as a plague. The power of influence can be dangerous.
Consider the Salem Witch Trials.
Or the Dancing Plague of 1518 (Yes, that’s real. Look it up.)
Want something more recent?
The Suicide Epidemic of Micronesia, 1960-1990. (Yes, it was considered TRENDY)
And then there are the less terrifying, but no less disturbing cases like Portugal, 2006, the illusive strawberry virus among school girls that copycatted the symptoms featured on a popular teen show. Except, there never was a virus.
And then there’s like… the Holocaust.
And really all the big uglies in human-kind’s history.
Now, now, now. Don’t get your panties (or boxers) in a wad over me likening a charitable trend to a suicide trend. Clearly, the two have very different outcomes. BUT they are driven by the same mechanisms. The point I am trying to make is that people are connected. Deeply. Psychologically. (I have a Masters in Psychology so I think I’ve read enough “unexplained” brain science to know this). And I do not take this connection lightly. And I guess I was just born with an acute awareness of this fact and a desire to never be held in the grip of social expectation. It breeds discontent. Inauthenticity. And a lack of human progress. Among other things.
I tell you all this, (though I could say much, MUCH more on the topic), because I will not be taking the “challenge,” at least not in the sense that I will be following the trend. I cannot get behind senseless acts. But I can get behind sensible ones. Like spreading awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) so that more money can be raised for research. My paternal grandfather did die of the disease and it is indeed heartbreaking to watch.
What I WILL be doing is posting a small excerpt from Lumaworld. Lou Gehrig’s actually makes an appearance in the book. I wrote it in there years ago, as a tribute to my Grandfather, I guess, and making ALS a more well-known disease. As for the “pass it on” idea, I’m not going to be challenging my “nominees” with pouring ice over their heads. Rather I will challenge them to come up with a way to raise awareness that speaks to their own innate creativity. I encourage awareness. I embrace creativity, which is the thing that keeps our heads out of the sand and our minds out of “group-think.” This, after all, is much more of a challenge–to dig deep, to find a more meaningful connection to people who suffer from something like ALS. We need to find ways to put ourselves in a position of caring deeply.
For me, these connections always come through writing.