How’s that for a title? Spring has been steadily growing here, and as I sat outside one warm evening, it occurred to me that there are definite limits to how much of my experience I can communicate in this blog. I add audio recordings to this blog to help fill in some of the details that photos can’t capture (and I’m going to post a video soon!), but there’s no way I can capture the soft, moist touch of a warm spring breeze blowing through the trees of a park at night. I suppose I could record the sound it makes, but even that would be difficult–it’s too quiet, too subtle–and without the accompanying feelings of the gentle night-warmth and the soothing way the wind brushes across your skin, it just wouldn’t be the same.
All of this passed through my mind while I was taking a break from the birthday party of our friends’ son. It was a fun party, but I can only handle so much loud, noisy, crowded fun, then I need quiet time alone to recharge. As I sat outside, enjoying the nighttime air, I realized that this was a apt metaphor for my place in life–the fringes. I’ve never been at the center of any social group. I’ve never fit in. I used to blame that on others narrow-mindedness, but now I realize that more than anything, the problem is that I consistently refuse to fit in. How much choice I have in that refusal–how much is willful pig-headedness and how much is in-born pig-headedness–I can’t know for certain. But the fact remains: I’m not comfortable at the center; I choose to be different, and therefore I don’t fit in.
It turns out there’s a poem that describes people like me with remarkable accuracy (though I rather hope the predictions of the last stanza can be altered):
The Men who Don’t Fit In
by Robert W. Service
There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.
If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.