Have you heard the question, “If you were accused of being a _______ (fill in the blank with any noun you cherish) would there be enough evidence to support it?”
I have. And I don’t like it.
To me, the quote sounds too much like a plea for stereotyping. It asks that I act a certain way and carry a certain image to the outside world so that people would know exactly who I am and where I stand on certain matters.
A similar incident happened to the presenter of a podcast I listen to. Isaac Morehouse, whose book I have mentioned in the past, speaks about how he was approached after a speaking engagement by a man who sought to define his ideology. Not being able to pin it down was causing him quite a bit of difficulty.
“He was visibly bothered,” Morehouse says. “But I knew what he was asking for. And I wasn’t going to give it to him.”
He was seeking a label.
Breaking Molds, Bending Genres
But that’s the thing about life, isn’t it? That’s the thing about love. People we love, things we do – things that matter – are complicated. They’re real, they live and breathe.
The best ones break molds.
This is as true of you as a homeschooler as it is of you in any other profession. This is true of you as a wife, a mother, a father. You are at your best when you transcend a role. This is true of your children and their curriculum. This is true of your days.
The best ones bend roles and genres.
I don’t often listen to music when I’m driving. One of those rare times I flicked on the radio and it occurred to me that I had actually begun to enjoy music quite uncharacteristic of me.
Now, I have never been a fan of rap, or hip-hop. But on this day, there was a song this particular radio station played that incorporated both those genres and added some elements of the blues into it. Perhaps because it took from two genres I didn’t much care for and went beyond them, I quite liked it.
The Best Things In Life Are…
Surprises, of course!
Ever so often, I come across a person, an idea, an event, a book that changes me. Usually, I am going about my day, checking things off my list, doing the next thing and something or someone disrupts it. I am left in the position of the audience member just mentioned questioning the disruptive influence.
“What are you?” I wonder. “Where do you stand? Who are you?” (Or, in the case of an idea, what? What in the world was that?)
Integrating this newfound knowledge requires a paradigm shift. It requires that I change, that I grow. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, author of Flow, which I have written about earlier, says that we need differentiation as well as integration to grow and become our complete, whole selves. An appeal to act a certain way to convince others that I am a certain person is an appeal to only one side of the equation – integration.
We need people who break molds in our lives; we need genre bending music, ideas that don’t quite fit. We desperately need to be stretched in ways that our to-do lists don’t make us. Over the years, I have come to appreciate those people who make me think, even if at the time they say something odd, I am left confused. Even if I reject what they say, they have made me think and helped me grow.
And helping someone grow is the best definition of love.