Mainstream Counterculture

Living counter culturally takes a lot of effort. To actively believe in unpopular and contradictory opinions to the widely accepted norm requires a fortitude that I often feel I might not have, and is sometimes so draining that I almost switch back to the easy wave of giving in. This generation of hipsters and their preceding Beatniks have implanted in us the notion that counter culture is glamorous, that “standing up” for your own truth immediately garners respect and admiration. Like most everything else, the reality is a bit sloppy.

It’s a little painfully ironic to desperately want a shield of impenetrable confidence and for the comments or unsolicited (and solicited) opinions of others to truly have no bearing on my self-worth. I try so hard to believe that my ecosystem of Planet Barae is on its own orbit and I’m a sarcastic little badass, but the truth is that belief takes a lot of work. Relinquishing the need for approval and agreement is scary. How can I be okay with myself and my own values and ideas when so many people, including people I love, are convinced of their exact contradiction?

I have not arrived at the answer. And I think that’s because it’s a shape-shifter — constantly morphing and altering positions and appearances and teleporting a couple years — that “answer” is. I’ve become pretty convinced that there isn’t actually a destination. Most likely I’ll never really be 100% comfortable with my own beliefs when others are seriously challenging them, especially the ones condemned by society as a whole. And I can only imagine what serenity in my own skin feels like. It will require a lot of introspection; of spending time to get to know myself and actually appreciate what I have to offer; of chipping away at the constraining blocks that keep me yearning, reaching for validation. Look at me being all philosophical.

There’s a few different facets of this endeavor for me. There’s the reality-check of a college not welcoming me with congratulatory arms, challenging my buried belief that I’m the special one, and somehow the world is different for me. I need that challenge. It’s refreshing and comforting to know that really, I’m not special, I don’t have some rare qualities that make me stand out, I share the same obstacles and doubts of actually everyone else on this planet and if I took the time to look, I’d realize that everyone thinks they’re the special one. There’s the realization that some members of my family and friends still strongly consider health as a moral issue and are unclear how to support me, and I am really, truly allowed to stick to my own convictions and perhaps simply disengage in that topic of discussion with them. Those people remain valid, important, nourishing people in my life, on other fronts.

Sometimes pushing forward on my own route seems insurmountable. Sometimes I am convinced that the overwhelming evidence of the entire cultural environment surrounding me might be right, and who am I to assume the self-righteous position of truth-proclaimer? I’m no revolutionary. Yet I continue to be taught that I really don’t need to start a revolution (a la SNL-Bernie Sanders). The reassurance that not a single action of mine requires approval of any external source, arising from my own embedded spark and the sheer fact that I exist, is a guiding force that I am constantly working to embrace. Every thought and extremely socially unacceptable joke that will make no one laugh outside of my head is a reminder that I don’t even need to believe it, I am a badass whether I like it or not.

It’s gonna take a lot more work and a lot more effort to fully embody this truth. I don’t envision an endpoint and I’m excited to embark on some kind of life-long vision quest, though I feel myself tip toeing into the desperately needed unknown and I’m terrified. Even though I just proclaimed this whole idea to be a self-empowered, introspective enterprise, I think it is a lot more powerful and empowering to know others are on the same venture. I could use some advice. How are you living your truth?

 

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3 thoughts on “Mainstream Counterculture

  1. I don’t think living ‘counter culturally‘ has to take a lot of effort. I live counter culturally (if the definition is “differently then most of America lives) by doing my best to consistently check in with my inner dictates…. and….. surrender to them. It is easy, after all these years, easier then not listening and not surrendering. I know it sounds corny, but my goal is to ask my self many times throughout a day, is this my highest good? Does this give me joy? For me, it is usually more about recognizing / remembering some truth – inner knowing…and letting it steer my actions, then it is about standing up for something that is different or fighting for a cause or an opinion I hold.
    When I am confronted with someone who does not share my values I am sometimes disheartened or discouraged, especially if I can not articulate what I know to be true, but I have several pretty sweet practices that help my spirit stay kindled. I’d love to share them with you if you are interested.
    I encourage you to hold on to beliefs that sustain you, the ones that nourish and strengthen you and let go of the ones that suck you dry. The natural world…now that sustains me.
    Over the many years I have come to believe we (as humans) are powerful beyond our knowing…and that we are creating with every thought we put out there. Every thought is like a prayer and it is best to notice them and keep them high, if possible. I call this living intentionally. I believe, and have lots of evidence to support, that when we get clear on our intentions, “Source Energy – the same stuff that is in the stars, and the oneness of all life, work with us to accomplish them.
    I come back to “the oneness of all life”..and spend time remembering what that means, often. I think about trees giving off oxygen that we just happen to need, plants greening up after a long dark replenishing winter’s sleep….but it is so much more than all that, it is synchronicity (being in the right place at the right time as a result of following my intuition…and so much more). I somehow deeply trust- the oneness of life. I know it will help me be my best self – whenever I remember it and claim it – I will be assisted. Now THAT I have confidence in….and that belief totally sustains me. I trust and have confidence in the oneness of life.
    The idea of ‘Source Energy’ living within me and using me for good, is also one I claim… I think about what source energy is…like how miraculous and beyond my understanding it is, for example I believe the same energy that brings a soul into an infant’s body or lets the birds know when to migrate and where to go, is in my heart beating, blood circulating, my nervous system, emotions …the northern lights. Taking a few moments to remind myself that my birth in itself is amazing and that I might as well be open to Source energy and the oneness of life using me for good , is helpful.
    Standing up for my own truth doesn’t usually render respect from others (it often pisses them off) but it has helped me respect and like myself. The more I do it, the more I like myself. The more I like myself, the more true confidence is established.

    “What I have come to know as true”” appears way differently then I imagined….in fact the only way to arrive at it, is in the present moment, this is what I know is true this moment, now I take this little step, now this one. Your point of power is always in the present moment and here’s another belief I hold “I always have all the resources, in the present moment that I need.” Sometimes I have to breath deep and remind myself.

    Might we be arriving each moment? I think you are getting to know and trust yourself more and more and with that process comes ease and soothing comfort. This getting older just gets better and better.

    We certainly share obstacles and doubts with mankind but I think most folks do not believe they are special. They have no idea that they are powerful creators. They don’t know or trust their own ability to live an intentional life.

    Health as a moral issue….hmmm, sounds like an interesting discussion. Did you disengage in this topic with me? The way I would like to support you is by spending time with you. I am going to be going to Bali in the Spring. When does your program in Peru end and would you like to join me there?

    You don’t have to be self righteous or proclaim the truth, I just do my best to quietly live it out (my own (ruth) to the best of my ability…at any given present moment.
    I think inner personal revolutions are in order.

    I learned from Peter Kauffman: When confronted with resistance ‘curiosity, non judgement and humor‘ are the way to go. Be kind to yourself dear one. Know how much I love you.
     
    One last thing, I hate to break it to you girl, but you are one of the most extraordinary human beings I have ever met.

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  2. Oh my G-d you are so on target. To be self empowering always suggests an overpowering, impenetrable ego that inevitably will be slashed by a hurtful knife. But, the world was only changed by those people who had ideas that reached far above the accepted and they stuck to those ideas. ’cause they believed in them. As you state, ‘standing up” for your own truth does garner respect and opens others to a new possibility. Don’t ever let go of something you feel is good..true..achievable. The fact that you are not always first on someone else’s list does not make them right. As we know, power, position..offers others their own choice. Please don’t give up the stubborn..open..determined fight to get whatever you seek..despite fallbacks. I only wish that I had had the self belief that I am now asking you to hold onto and to go forward with the feelings therein..you have too much to offer all to dismiss one iota..

    luv ya, gram

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  3. I think, for me, being true to myself is a lifelong endeavor. Sometimes it comes easier and sometimes it is more difficult to remember who I am. Though usually spending time alone, running or walking or whatever, can get me back in my own track. Thanks for, once again, getting me thinking.

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