A Man and His Hog

He Rides Alone...

Americans like to characterize people and put them in categories of what they think they are and how they will act. If they don't think of bikers as having a bad reputation at the minimum they believe they're on the fringe of society. There are outlaw riders, motorcycle club riders, boomers out for the thrill of it, Harley riders, Kawasaki crotch rocket riders, people who ride them because they like to or it's their only means of transportation. Mostly my experience has been a lot of bikers who look scary to others are pretty much regular people. They choose to live life differently, out of the mainstream culture, just as a lot of people do who do not fit in.

There are many people who do not fit into everyday society nor do they want to. You can make of them what you want but they are integral to what America is really about. You don't have to conform if you don't want to although there are a lot of people who will argue that you do. In the sixties and seventies the common quip about those who had long hair and wore jeans and boots were not noncomformists at all but actually conforming to a different norm. They missed the point. They were refusing to follow the standard rules of society, go to school, wear the usual clothes, get a regular job, get married and have kids.

Zen and the Art of Maintaining Individuality.

Some of us held on to an independent life for awhile and then tried the norm. In the vernacular: "Hated It!" It didn't take many of us long to realize that we would never fit in no matter what we tried. It's in the head, the personality type, the thinking brain and there's no changing it, so why fight it? I decided a long time ago that I was not cut out for a "career" and that I didn't need the stress or hassle not only of trying to meet the compliance a corporation demanded of me but that it also required me to work even harder at fitting ino being somebody I wasn't.

Far, far easier to be comfortable with myself, be who I am naturally with people that accept me for what I am and in turn I accept them for what they are. My friends and acquaintances run the gamut. I have friends in their seventies who are livelier than people who are in their forties. There are retailers in their twenties who are the best conversationalists I know and much more interesting than talking with lawyers I've worked with. I'm familiar with an architect who is the dullest person with a small imagination. On the other side of the coin is the handyman that does work around here and is probably one of the smartest guys I know, not just in craft work, but also in worldly topics.

Make your own noise. If you're happy being an accountant I'm happy for you, all I ask is that you be accepting of the rest of us who don't want to do that. If you want to travel cross-country in an RV go for it. What we all should remember is that America was built on people who were different and that is why they left where they were and came here. Don't characterize anyone who doesn't conform to what are considered societal norms because the most creative ideas and innovative products usually emerge from those that others consider unconventional. What is not in the mainstream culture very often later becomes accepted as the norm. Then the cycle begins again.


  1. I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the idea of "normal", and I am (so far) sticking with my long-ago conclusion that such a thing doesn't exist. I'm also pretty sure that being a non-conformist isn't really a choice. I do wonder exactly what "conformity" means, and who'd even want to conform, and why they might choose to.

    It all baffles me, but it would have to. I've always just been me, doing what I do and thinking and feeling what I think and feel. Sometimes what I've thought and felt seems to have been in the same area code as what other people seem to have been feeling and thinking; sometimes I've walked around feeling totally alone regarding what passes as public opinion. The strange thing is that in either case there was always a sense of loneliness, and that the feeling was...welcome. Maybe I didn't always express my feelings to every single person who inquired about them but I wasn't afraid of them; I've always been blessed with an ability to find comfort in being different. It's a great gift, as anyone who regularly thanks butterflies and trees for being there can probably attest. I say probably, because who knows? :)

    Great post, JR!

  2. Mike...I don't think many people think the way we do about conformity but rather just cave to the pressure of what others expect of them. We've been living in decades when mass marketing and branding has dominated the culture and a lot of people are still believers in it for reasons they don't understand.

    I view the economic, social and political turmoil of the current times as an opportunity to help people to think that being different is OK, is in fact the "norm." In the late nineties and until about 2005 I was beginning to feel alienated and uncomfortable with being different because it seemed consumerism was never going to end.

    I do think a lot of that has to do with where you live. When I was younger Arizona was much less populated and when we swelled to millions packed into basically two cities, that is when the discomfort began. Your analogy of area code is great...all of a sudden instead of being in a one area code state I was in one that suddenly had five!

    Since around 2006 I began to drift back to not caring if people wanted to have all this junk, even if it was spewing crap into my space and crowding me, I was just going to be myself. Now is a time when I see a lot of other people beginning to think again and liberate themselves so to speak from a trap they fell into.